Formula 1 delivered another brilliant spectacle as Charles Leclerc claimed a monumental victory at Monza on a day of contrasting fortunes for Ferrari’s drivers.

Leclerc fended off a two-pronged Mercedes attack to give Ferrari it’s first win in Italy since 2010 and send the home crowd into raptures, while teammate Sebastian Vettel endured a race to forget.

Here are some of the major talking points from the Italian Grand Prix…

Vettel’s Monza mess

One can imagine that Vettel will want to quickly erase the memories of this year’s Italian Grand Prix after his race unravelled in spectacular fashion.

Vettel’s problems started during a messy end to Q3, in which he did not receive a tow from teammate Leclerc as planned and could only qualify fourth on the grid, three places behind the Monegasque, who went on to grab pole position.

He was briefly caught out by the fast-starting Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and lost ground on the opening lap, before swiftly regaining fourth spot as he breezed past his countryman along the main straight next time around.

Having kept tabs with the leading trio of Leclerc, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Vettel spun in Italy for the second time in two years. On this occasion however, he had no one pilling on the pressure behind and managed to pirouette all by himself at the Ascari chicane on Lap 6.

What followed was a clumsy decision that made Vettel - a four-time world champion - look amateurish as he failed to see Lance Stroll coming and collected the Canadian’s Racing Point in his haste to return to the circuit.

It was an incident that resulted in Vettel picking up the most extreme penalty the stewards can dish out (besides disqualification) in the shape of a 10-second stop and go penalty. Vettel’s race was over from this moment. He ultimately recovered to 13th but adding to his blushes, he was lapped by race-winner Leclerc.

It marked a new low for Vettel, who has now made nine notable errors in the past 27 races and remains without a victory for more than a year. Vettel is also now just one major penalty away from receiving a one-race ban and he will have to keep his record squeaky clean across the next three events before his current penalty points tally for the current 12-month period are reduced on October 19.

Vettel’s frustrations in 2019 are showing no signs of stopping and are coinciding with the rise of Leclerc, who is only adding to the pressure felt by the German after claiming Ferrari’s first two wins of the season in the last two weekends.

Leclerc becomes instant hero

Leclerc took full advantage of Vettel’s slipping Scuderia crown to become an instant hero for the Tifosi at Monza.

In winning the race in his first attempt as a works Ferrari driver, Leclerc has cemented himself into legendary status in Italy, following up his win in Belgium last weekend with yet another triumph.

Just as he did at Spa, Leclerc once again soaked up enormous pressure from a charging Lewis Hamilton (and the demanding Tifosi) and without the help of his teammate, single-handedly fought off the Mercedes pair to end Ferrari’s nine-year wait for a home win.

After the race, Leclerc spoke of how determined he was to win at Monza and it showed in his robust and impressive racecraft as he straddled the borderline of what is acceptable in his defence from Hamilton - twice forcing the five-time world champion to take evasive action.

The Monegasque credited his new-found aggressive approach to learning lessons from his late defeat to Max Verstappen in Austria and a subsequent ‘let them race’ policy adopted by the FIA and race stewards which followed the race.

Leclerc delighted the home crowd with his sensational wheel-to-wheel battles against Hamilton and Bottas and has become a new fan-favourite, seemingly replacing Vettel.

Sunday felt like a momentous day and left many in the paddock with the sense that a changing of the guard had just taken place at Ferrari, following Leclerc’s latest overpowering of Vettel.

For the first time this year, Leclerc now heads Vettel in the championship and has a wave of momentum behind him, having picked up consecutive victories and out-qualified Vettel at the last seven rounds.

If Leclerc can continue this form, he will give Ferrari no option but to place its backing fully behind him for the rest of the season and beyond.

Renault finally comes good

Off the back of a difficult 2019 campaign and an emotional Belgian Grand Prix last weekend, in which Renault junior Anthoine Hubert was tragically killed during a Formula 2 race, Renault was in need of a morale-boost in Italy.

In qualifying, both Daniel Ricciardo and Hulkenberg starred as the French manufacturer emerged as the surprise package of Saturday by locking out the third row of the grid, with Ricciardo ending up just half-a-second adrift of Leclerc’s pole time in an encouraging display which demonstrated Renault’s recent engine progress at the power-hungry Monza.

Renault has often ended up squandering good opportunities during a frustrating season so far, but it was not the case this time around, as the team proved to be the class of the midfield while taking advantage of issues for its rivals.

Ricciardo recorded his best finish since his big money move from Red Bull over the winter as he led home teammate Hulkenberg in fourth place. A haul of 22 points marked Renault’s best result at a race since Alonso claimed the team’s last victory at the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix.

Giovinazzi delivers at home

Antonio Giovinazzi atoned for his last-lap crash while running inside the points at Spa with a brilliant performance at his home race in Italy.

He was the 11th quickest driver in qualifying with a lap time that was just 0.002s slower than Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen managed, which was enough to see the Finn through into Q3.

A engine and gearbox-related grid penalty for Raikkonen after crashing during the pole position shootout promoted Giovinazzi into the top 10 on the grid for Sunday’s race as he became the first Italian to start a home race from the front five rows of the grid since Vitantonio Liuzzi in 2009.

He followed that up with a composed drive throughout 53 laps to seal a strong ninth-place finish, making him the first Italian to score points at an Italian Grand Prix since Giancarlo Fisichella did so by finishing in the same position while driving a works Ferrari in 2009.

It marked Giovinazzi’s second points finish of the year and came at a crucial time with just seven rounds remaining as he continues his bid to retain his seat for the 2020 campaign.

Further performances like that in the coming races and Giovinazzi’s position within the team will only be strengthened.

 

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