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.


Spanish driver Carlos Sainz wins Dakar Rally for third time

Updated 7 min 24 sec ago

Spanish driver Carlos Sainz wins Dakar Rally for third time

  • Asked about defending his title next year Sainz said: “It’s too early to think about it, let me enjoy this”
  • He has now won the Dakar with three different manufacturers, having previously triumphed with Volkswagen in 2010 and Peugeot in 2018

QIDDIYA: Veteran Spanish driver Carlos Sainz won the Dakar Rally for the third time on Friday, finishing with a comfortable winning margin in the first running of the event in Saudi Arabia.
The 57-year-old crossed the line in the 12th and final stage 6min 21sec ahead of nearest challenger and reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, who had managed to cut Sainz’s lead to just 24 seconds on Tuesday but fell back after navigation blunders.
“I feel very happy. There’s a lot of effort behind this. A lot of training, practice,” Sainz told the race’s website.
“It has been a flat out rally since the beginning. It was fantastic, a first time in Saudi Arabia, of course you can always improve but it was a fantastic effort,” he added.
Asked about defending his title next year Sainz said: “It’s too early to think about it, let me enjoy this.”
Sainz, the father of F1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr., seized control of the race from the third stage in his X-raid Mini.
He has now won the Dakar with three different manufacturers, having previously triumphed with Volkswagen in 2010 and Peugeot in 2018.
Stephane Peterhansel was third at 9min 58sec behind in his Mini. Both the Frenchman and Sainz won four stages in the marathon 12-day, 7,800-kilometer (4,800-mile) race.
Ricky Brabec triumphed in the motorbike section for Honda, becoming the first US rider to win the gruelling race.
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso finished 13th on his Dakar debut, nearly five hours behind the winner.
Alonso came second in one stage but his first participation in the Dakar was a bruising affair as the 38-year-old Spaniard suffered a double rollover in the 10th stage after hitting a dune at an awkward angle.