Italian GP Wrap: Leclerc holds off unrelenting Mercedes pressure to triumph again

Charles Leclerc impressively held off near-constant pressure from Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the Italian Grand Prix to claim his second successive Formula 1® victory.

Ferrari driver Leclerc had too much pace for the Mercedes pair as he followed up his triumph at Spa by claiming the Scuderia's first win at their home circuit since Fernando Alonso in 2010, with Bottas and Hamilton settling for second and third respectively.

The Monegasque – on the hard compound – received a warning in the form of a black and white flag from the race stewards after he appeared to leave Hamilton insufficient space heading into the Della Roggia chicane on lap 23.

Championship leader Hamilton again complained about pole-sitter Leclerc's defence and failed to create a better chance for the overtake, with his hopes of winning over when he locked up his deteriorating medium tyres and was forced to skip the first two turns.

Hamilton's error freed Bottas, who was on a fresher set of mediums, to take a run at Leclerc, but even with the benefit of DRS the Finn was unable to get the job done as the 21-year-old clung on for victory.

Leclerc consequently moved up to fourth in the drivers' standings, while Bottas closed the gap to Hamilton - who posted the fastest lap - to 63 points.

In a sign of things to come, Leclerc held off Hamilton and Bottas from lights out, but his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel could not keep Nico Hulkenberg at bay.

Although Vettel regained his position from the Renault driver, he span off at Ascari chicane on lap seven and received a 10-second stop/go penalty for clipping Lance Stroll when he re-entered the track. Stroll then forced Pierre Gasly off when he re-joined the race and was punished with a drive-through penalty.

Hamilton said over team radio that Leclerc did not leave him a car's width of space when he looked to overtake on lap 23 and the Monegasque was flagged by stewards as a result but avoided a costly sanction.

The Briton struggled to keep up with the Ferrari but the deployment of virtual safety cars after retirements for Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat gave Hamilton a couple of chances to use his softer tyres to crank up the pressure.

Leclerc continued to cling on, though Hamilton highlighted what he perceived as "dangerous driving" on the run down to the Della Roggia chicane.

After Hamilton went off track with 12 laps remaining, Bottas was told to "hunt down" Leclerc. He was unable to do so and an error at turn one brought his challenge to an end, as the Ferrari man secured a famous victory.

A CONTRASTING DAY FOR FERRARI

While Leclerc brought elation to the Scuderia garage with his success, team-mate Vettel only found frustration at Monza once more.

Contact with Hamilton resulted in Vettel spinning out at the Della Roggia chicane last year, but this time he only had himself to blame after a loss of control and moment of madness.

In 2018 he was able to recover and finish fourth, but this year he had to settle for a disappointing 13th as talk of a changing of the guard at Ferrari gained more weight.

RED BULL HAVE A DAY TO FORGET

Max Verstappen started from the back of the grid after taking a new power unit, but he was unable to stay out of trouble.

The Dutchman sustained damage to his front wing at turn one and was unable to get in the mix for podium positions, while team-mate Alexander Albon had to serve a five-second penalty for gaining a place by leaving the track.

Albon finished sixth, with Verstappen in eighth behind Sergio Perez.

RENAULT IN THE POINTS

It has been a season to forget for Renault so far, but they enjoyed a fruitful day at Monza.

Daniel Ricciardo only missed out on a place on the podium by 10 seconds, with team-mate Hulkenberg following him over the line in fifth.

It represented the third time Renault have had two drivers in the top 10 this season.

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