Charles Leclerc acknowledges his moves while defending against long-time challenger Lewis Hamilton throughout Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix were “very on the limit”.

Leclerc fended off the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to claim back-to-back victories for Ferrari at Monza as the team recorded its first Italian GP win since 2010.

For much of the race, Leclerc and Hamilton battled wheel-to-wheel for the race lead, with the Monegasque putting in a number of aggressive defensive manoeuvres to keep Hamilton behind.

Leclerc was shown the black-and-white flag for two incidents while moving under braking but the Monza stewards opted to take no further action, something which puzzled Hamilton.

“I think since Austria it is clear that you can go a bit further in the way we defend and overtake and just the aggressiveness of us drivers,” Leclerc said.

“I believe that Austria helped me to change this approach and today, it’s also thanks to this that I managed to win. It was obviously very on the limit but I’m happy to race like this.

“I have been aware on the radio that I took a black-and-white flag for moving under braking but I’m not so sure for which move, if it’s the one at the right-hander where we were flat-out or after that,” he added.

“To be completely honest I knew he [Hamilton] was completely on the right. He broke a little bit early, which I think was because he didn’t want to try around the outside. I felt I had left a car width but I haven’t seen the images. I am pretty sure there was a car’s width. 

“I think it’s good if we can race harder. I haven’t seen the images so i cannot comment on this case but overall I am happy if we can race harder.”

Leclerc said the intensity of his fight with Hamilton made the race “very difficult”, leaving him relieved to cross the line and seal a popular victory.

“There was a lot going through my mind during the race and after the race - a lot of emotions, obviously it was very, very difficult during the race,” he explained.

“Lewis was behind me and I think the biggest gap there was, was maybe 1.7 or 1.8s so he was always right behind me. I knew that Lewis rarely does mistakes, so obviously I had to stay on it.

“I did a few mistakes, which never cost me a position, once was very, very close but it was crazy. Finally in the last two laps I started to believe that the win was possible.

“The tyres felt quite OK and I think with the traffic Valtteri dropped quite a bit and that helped me to get a little bit of space and then finally going over the line, I just let all my emotions out over the radio.

“I don’t think you can understand anything that I said on the radio but it felt absolutely amazing and the podium was also, going beyond my dreams I have had since a child.

“So many people cheering for one team, singing altogether, it was amazing. 

“The 53 laps felt a lot longer than 53 laps and there was a lot of pressure from behind. Once I crossed the finish line until now is just pure happiness.”

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