Mercedes were quicker than Ferrari - Leclerc elated with 'extremely difficult' victory

By Sports Desk September 08, 2019

Charles Leclerc enjoyed a thrilling victory at the Italian Grand Prix but thought Mercedes were quicker than Ferrari at Monza.

Pole-sitter Leclerc held off persistent pressure from the Silver Arrows to claim his second straight Formula One victory, having sealed his maiden triumph at Spa last weekend.

The 21-year-old was shown a black and white flag as a warning by race stewards after appearing to squeeze out Lewis Hamilton midway through the race, while the championship leader complained of "dangerous driving" as he struggled to find a way past the Ferrari driver.

Deteriorating tyres saw Hamilton run wide and Valtteri Bottas move into second, but even with the assistance of DRS the Finn was unable to get close enough to attempt a move on Leclerc.

Speaking to reporters after the race, an elated Leclerc said: "It was extremely difficult, they were quicker than us I think.

"They had two cars to fight us with as well – Valtteri went longer [on his first set of tyres]. But we managed the race well and I'm happy to take home the win.

"I think if you have to win one grand prix with Ferrari it's the Italian. From the beginning of the week it's been crazy - coming here after my first win, to get the second one straight away is just unbelievable.

"I've never dreamed of something like this before. It's above everything I ever imagined in my career to have a podium like that."

Bottas and Hamilton, who finished second and third respectively, took a very different view in their assessments.

"I think we had a good strategy. We could go pretty long with the first stop and get close to him at the end," said Bottas.

"But I am gutted. There was no way past. Always when I was getting close the front started locking because of the lack of downforce.

"They are so quick on the straights as well, but I tried and i think that was the best we could do today."

Hamilton added: "Congratulations to Ferrari and Charles. There was a lot of pressure from Valtteri and me, then my tyres just went off a cliff. Even if we did get closer, we couldn't have passed.

"We got strong points for the team and we pull away from Ferrari in the constructors and that's all that matters.

"I'm just trying to do better in each race, I've had a healthier [championship] lead in the past. Some improvements can be made to myself and my set-up, but it was a great race."

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