Leclerc ends Ferrari's 9-year wait for Italian Grand Prix win

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Ferrari's Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (R) celebrates winning the pole position after the qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on September 7, 2019 ahead of the Italian Formula One Grand Prix. (AFP / Miguel Medina)
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Ferrari's Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (R) competes ahead of Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton during the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on September 8, 2019. (AFP / Miguel Medina)
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Ferrari's Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc competes to win the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on September 8, 2019. (AFP / Miguel Medina)
Updated 09 September 2019

Leclerc ends Ferrari's 9-year wait for Italian Grand Prix win

  • Leclerc came home narrowly ahead of second-placed Valtteri Bottas and his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton

MONZA, Italy: Charles Leclerc secured Ferrari’s first victory at their home Italian Grand Prix since 2010 on Sunday when he resisted race-long pressure from Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to claim his second successive Formula One triumph.
The 21-year-old, who won his maiden GP in Belgium last weekend, was exultant as a vast army of Ferrari fans in an estimated crowd of more than 150,000 celebrated deliriously.
“I think if you have to win one Grand Prix with Ferrari, it’s the Italian Grand Prix,” said an exhausted Leclerc after winning the 90th edition of the GP for the Italian team in their 90th year.
“I came here with my first win and to win my second one here straight away with all the fans is just unbelievable.
“I don’t have the words to describe this. I have never imagined it, I’ve never dreamed of something like this — it is above everything I have imagined in my career and in my racing life to have a podium like this.”
Leclerc came home narrowly ahead of second-placed Valtteri Bottas and his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who pursued the victory for most of the race until his tires let him down.
Hamilton apologized to Mercedes and said his tires “had gone off the cliff” but the defending five-time champion still has a healthy lead in the drivers championship, 63 points ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Bottas.
Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel endured a torrid and disappointing day, finishing 13th after spinning off and taking a penalty for rejoining in a dangerous fashion.
Daniel Ricciardo came home fourth ahead of his Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, Red Bull new boy Alex Albon, Sergio Perez of Force India and Max Verstappen, who finished eighth after starting from 19th in the second Red Bull.
Local hero Antonio Giovinazzi came home ninth for Alfa Romeo ahead of Lando Norris of McLaren, who continued his impressive rookie season.
Leclerc made a clean start from pole and fended off Hamilton at the first chicane, where Verstappen was an opening lap casualty and required a pit stop for a new front wing and a set of hard tires.
After a wheel-banging battle between Albon and Sainz, Leclerc clocked a fastest lap and then Vettel spun at Ascari, clipping Lance Stroll’s Racing Point as he re-joined.
Both cars were damaged, Vettel pitting for a new front wing, after which the German was given a 10-seconds stop-and-go penalty and dropped to last.
By lap 19, Hamilton and Vettel had warned their tires were gone, the Briton pitting immediately for ‘mediums’.
He fell to fifth, but Leclerc hung on to pit a lap later for ‘hards’ and return fourth as the champion roared down the straight.
The two fought ferociously, Hamilton attempting to pass twice, the second attack ending with him escaping across the grass. “He didn’t leave me a car’s width,” said Hamilton.
The stewards agreed and Leclerc was shown a black-and-white flag, warning him to behave.
“I did a few mistakes, but at the end I finished first.” Leclerc said afterwards. “But I do need to be careful with the mistakes, but none of them stopped me from finishing first today.”
On lap 36, Leclerc kept his lead by scampering across the run-off at the first chicane.
“Some dangerous driving here,” reported Hamilton as the stewards noted the incident and Bottas, remorselessly fast, closed to within three seconds in third.
With 10 laps to go, Hamilton out-braked himself and ran into the first chicane escape road. Bottas passed for second and the hunt was on.
Bottas cut the lead to a second, but the ice-cool Leclerc hung on, his harder rubber keeping him ahead for a historic win.

Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

Updated 16 September 2019

Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

  • Toronto Raptors center Mark Gasol becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year


BEIJING: Three-time All-Star Marc Gasol became only the second man to win an NBA crown and the World Cup in the same year after Spain brushed aside Argentina 95-75 on Sunday.

Spain, who survived double overtime against Australia to reach the final, led throughout in Beijing to win international basketball’s biggest prize a second time.

The only previous occasion was in 2006 with the two Gasol brothers, Marc and older sibling Pau, on the team.

Pau did not feature in China because of injury.

The latest triumph was particularly sweet for the 34-year-old center Gasol, who three months ago also played a key part in the Toronto Raptors’ run to the NBA title.

Gasol, who had 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, joins Lamar Odom, a double winner in 2010 with the US and Los Angeles Lakers.

Surprise finalists Argentina had not triumphed since they hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1950.

As a contest, the final was over by the fourth quarter — although the Argentines did rally belatedly to reduce Spain’s previously mighty lead.

Fans of both teams had made it feel more like a football match, decked out in their national colors, chanting loudly and refusing to sit down.

Spain, for whom Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns has been one of the leading players of the tournament in China, surged into a 14-2 lead.

In front of a capacity crowd, Argentina’s 39-year-old talisman Luis Scola could not escape the attentions of Pierre Oriola.

Led by their slick-haired Italian coach Sergio Scariolo, Spain were up 21-14 going into the second quarter and increased their advantage to 43-31 at halftime.

With Rubio prominent, drilling 20 points, Spain never looked like surrendering their lead, repeatedly thwarting Argentina’s suffocated offense.

France roared back after halftime to defeat Australia 67-59 and claim a second World Cup bronze in a row — and extend the Boomers’ long wait for a major medal.

Turkish-based guard Nando De Colo led all scorers with 19 points for France and Nicolas Batum had nine points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals.

The French, one of the tallest teams at the tournament, defeated reigning two-time holders the US in the quarterfinals, but then lost heavily to Argentina.

“For us it’s something very, very special and important we did it after a very difficult first half,” French coach Vincent Collet said.

“Many teams could have given up, even easy shots we were missing in the first half.

“We started to move the ball better in the second half and that’s why we won this game.”

It was hard on Australia, who similarly led for long periods in their semifinal against Spain.

It is still the best finish for the Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarterfinals at 11 previous World Cups, but they are yet to claim a medal at the worlds or Olympics.

Deposed champions the US, who were missing their elite names, finished seventh, their lowest position in tournament history.

They did, at least, qualify to defend their Olympic title in Tokyo next summer. With 32 teams, this was the biggest Basketball World Cup ever.

The next one will be in 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.