F1 Raceweek: Leclerc targets Monza glory as Ferrari chase home win

By Sports Desk September 05, 2019

Charles Leclerc believes his breakthrough win at the Belgian Grand Prix can be the first of many as he and Ferrari eye Monza glory this weekend.

The 21-year-old is riding high on the back of his Spa success, and hopes are high among the 'tifosi' that Ferrari will roar to a home triumph at Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

With so many supporters backing Leclerc and team-mate Sebastian Vettel, the team have good reason to be confident at a track that, like Spa, is expected to play to their strengths.

The long straight sections will allow Ferrari to use their superior pace, and Leclerc will aim to strike a first blow in Friday's practice, having dominated last weekend from start to finish.

"I am very happy that this first win is done," Leclerc said at Thursday's news conference.

"It's always difficult to do this first step but once that's done it takes quite a bit of weight off your shoulders.

"I'm very proud but have had not much time to think about it because we're here four days later in Italy, and we have to focus on the job we have to do here.

"I haven't done much to celebrate. Hopefully I'll be able to celebrate after this one.

"It's something that until you get it, it feels far away. But once you have it, it feels obviously very, very good and it gives you a bit of a confidence boost. Now I can focus on the future and hopefully many more will come."

The death of Anthoine Hubert on the Saturday of the Spa race weekend will always overshadow Leclerc's maiden F1 win, but four-time world champion Vettel also anticipates many more victories for the man from Monte Carlo.

"I think it's positive that he's surprised a lot of people outside [the team]," Vettel said. "But inside he's been with the driver academy for a while and it's been clear he has a lot of potential.

"It's good to see he's right on the pace straightaway. From the team point of view the important thing is we work together, not against each other - that's important otherwise it would be a bit of a waste of energy.

"It was a big weekend for him last weekend even though it was overshadowed by the passing of Anthoine, so not great, but it was his first one and I'm sure he'll be around for a while so there will be a lot more."

The bond between the Ferrari pair was obvious during the news conference, with Vettel winding up Leclerc at one stage when the younger driver was asked whether he had treated himself by buying himself a present after Spa.

Vettel suggested to Leclerc he had bought a boat to celebrate, briefly confusing his team-mate, before Leclerc saw the funny side. For the record, Leclerc declared he has yet to buy himself anything to mark the career landmark.

Leclerc said there was "great teamwork" on show at Spa, and both men feel that will be the key to Ferrari establishing themselves as the team to rival Mercedes.

When asked how the relationship with Leclerc compares to that with his former team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel said, to laughter: "More words."

"The key is we work together to try to push the team," he added. "Our car is not where we want it to be - I said earlier we didn't have the car and ability to win every race and that is our objective. It serves both of us to push in that same direction because I believe one day we will have that car and we can fight it out."

As for whether Ferrari will be celebrating come Sunday evening, Vettel sounded a note of caution. Ferrari last won the Italian Grand Prix in 2010, when Fernando Alonso was the toast of the team.

"We're not the clear favourites," Vettel said. "I think we have to be carefully optimistic and realistic. There are a lot of elements during a grand prix that can make a difference.

"One [qualifying] lap is one thing but there's a lot of laps on Sunday. Plus the weather. I see it as a chance, simple as that.

You always have a chance if you're on a grid, no matter where you start from. We want to make sure we start from the front which gives you a higher chance and then carry that into the race."

Related items

  • Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium could host Miami GP after agreement reached 'in principle' Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium could host Miami GP after agreement reached 'in principle'

    Miami is set to host a Formula One race in 2021 after an agreement was reached in principle to stage the event at the Hard Rock Stadium.

    It was originally thought F1 was looking to gain permission to put on a race in Miami's harbourside area but faced opposition to the idea and consequently switched focus to the home of NFL franchise the Miami Dolphins.

    A joint statement from F1 commercial chief Sean Bratches and Dolphins vice chairman Tom Garfinkel confirmed the venue could host the inaugural Miami Grand Prix in the 2021 season.

    "We are thrilled to announce that Formula One and Hard Rock Stadium have reached an agreement in principle to host the first-ever Formula One Miami Grand Prix at Hard Rock Stadium," the statement read.

    "With an estimated annual impact of more than $400million and 35,000 room nights, the Formula One Miami Grand Prix will be an economic juggernaut for South Florida each and every year.

    "We are deeply grateful to our fans, elected officials and the local tourism industry for their patience and support throughout this process. We look forward to bringing the greatest racing spectacle on the planet for the first time to one of the world's most iconic and glamorous regions."

    Garfunkel tweeted images of what the race will look like and indicated it would take place in May on the calendar, with the design of the track layout mainly using car parks and land owned by the stadium.

    CEO Chase Carey had outlined growing F1 in America as one of his focuses when Liberty Media completed its takeover just under three years ago.

    Reports suggest permission still needs to be granted by the Miami-Dade County officials before getting the go-ahead.

  • Blaney pips Newman to victory at 1000Bulbs.com 500 Blaney pips Newman to victory at 1000Bulbs.com 500

    Ryan Blaney beat Ryan Newman by mere inches in an incredible finish at the 1000Bulbs.com 500.

    Everyone expected the "Big One" at Talladega Superspeedway to cause havoc for NASCAR's playoff drivers on Monday after Sunday's race was rescheduled.

    Yet no one could have foreseen the carnage or the type of finish as Blaney pipped Newman at the finish line for his first victory of 2019 and third of his career.

    The margin of victory – 7/1,000ths of a second – is the sixth-closest finish of all-time in NASCAR's top series.

    While the victory clinches Blaney a spot in the Round of 8 in the NASCAR playoffs, other playoff drivers were not so fortunate, as all 12 were involved in one or more multicar crashes or other mayhem.

    William Byron won the first stage of the race on Sunday before wet weather postponed the finish to Monday. 

    Clint Bowyer won Stage 2 after he managed to avoid "the Big One" on lap 106 when Alex Bowman – who was running in second place – got turned around on the backstretch while trying to block a charging Joey Logano.

    Playoff drivers Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson were also caught in the crash.

    The yellow flag came out with 36 laps remaining after Bowyer went for a solo spin off Turn 4 and needed a wrecker to help get his car unstuck from the steep banking. A few laps later, another big crash erupted when a chain-reaction pileup in the lower drafting line got Byron loose, and he turned into Logano, as the two collected several other cars. While Logano returned to the track, Byron was finished for the day.

    With less than 10 laps remaining, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski were involved in another big crash, which saw Brendan Gaughan go briefly airborne.

    Blaney led the way on the restart with two laps remaining and held off the rest of the field as yet another multicar crash broke out on the final lap.

  • F1 Raceweek: The joy of six - how Mercedes broke constructors' record F1 Raceweek: The joy of six - how Mercedes broke constructors' record

    It was only a matter of time before Mercedes broke Ferrari's record by sealing a sixth consecutive Formula One constructors' titles.

    The Silver Arrows were celebrating yet again after achieving that feat at the Japanese Grand Prix, where Valtteri Bottas took the chequered flag ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton finished third.

    Mercedes have held the title since dethroning Red Bull in 2014, dominating the sport with Hamilton winning four titles during that time and standing on the brink of another this season.

    We look back on the level of dominance the Brackley-based team have enjoyed.


    2014 - A sign of things to come

    Red Bull had taken the title for four years in a row before Mercedes ended that sequence in 2014.

    Hamilton claimed his second world title - and his first for the team - ahead of colleague Nico Rosberg and the Silver Arrows duo amassed 701 points to win by a margin of 296.

    They won 16 races and secured 31 podium finishes in a dominant season which was the sign of things to come.


    2015 - More of the same with a marginal gain

    Mercedes bettered their tally for the season by two points as Hamilton retained his title, Rosberg once again runner-up.

    They matched the number of victories secured in 2014, as well as the incredible total of 18 poles for the campaign.

    There was an additional podium finish for the back-to-back constructors' champions by 275 points ahead of Ferrari as rivals were left trailing in their wake.


    2016 - Rosberg reigns as Mercedes move to another level

    The Silver arrows took their dominance to another level in 2016, winning 19 of 21 races. 

    While Mercedes were never in danger of losing their constructors' title, finishing 297 points better off than Red Bull, Hamilton and Rosberg fought it out in an enthralling battle for the drivers' crown.

    It was Rosberg who came out on top on this occasion by just five points and the German retired after a season that saw Mercedes fail to secure pole only once and amass 33 podiums.


    2017 - New line-up, no let-up

    A new driver line-up did not stop Mercedes from adding another constructors' title to their haul two years ago.

    Normal service was resumed as Hamilton regained the title, denying Vettel by 46 points with Bottas third in the standings after taking Rosberg's seat.

    There were 12 wins, 15 poles and 26 podium finishes for Mercedes in 2017 as Ferrari were more competitive, although the Scuderia were still as many as 146 points adrift of the constructors' champions.


    2018 - Ferrari close the gap, but Mercedes clean up again

    A promising start for Vettel and Ferrari last season proved to be a false down as Hamilton claimed his fifth world title.

    Ferrari finished with 84 points fewer than Mercedes as Hamilton and Bottas took the chequered flag 11 times between them.

    Mercedes were not quite as prolific in qualifying, taking pole 13 times as their points tally was down at 655 from 668 12 months earlier.


    2019 - Six of the best

    With four races remaining Mercedes already have one title in the bag, with Hamilton closing in on another.

    A win for Bottas in Suzuka and Hamilton's third place has the champions on 612 to Ferrari's 433.

    Mercedes have only failed to win five of 17 races, which makes for grim reading for their rivals.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.