White wine with chicken. Pitta with humous. Ferrari winning in Italy. Is there anything more natural, or fitting? Yet this is Ferrari’s first Monza win in nine years, as Leclerc secured victory – and it wasn’t without controversy.
Leclerc started off in pole position on Sunday, with Hamilton and Bottas making up the front three. Leclerc drove fantastically, and due to his colours was given home support; nonetheless, he must also be thankful for not being awarded a penalty for his manoeuvring when heading into a corner as Hamilton attempted to overtake. Leclerc seemingly braked and turned right at the same time, leaving Hamilton with less than a cars width space to stay on the track – which in turn, led to Hamilton driving onto the grass.
Leclerc was shown a black and white flag for his actions, the black and white flag has been available for over a decade but more emphasis has been placed on its use this year, the flag works as a warning that any more of that behaviour will result in a time penalty – Michael Masi, race director, compares it to a yellow card in football. Jolyon Palmer, former Renault driver and BBC Radio 5 Live commentator, described the laws as inconsistent. Palmer points to how Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was penalised five seconds for a similar infringement with Mercedes’ Bottas at last year’s Monza; he further lamented, that this allows each driver to commit one offence in a race and get away with it.
Nevertheless, this is a great result for the 21-year-old working as the perfect follow up to his maiden win in Belgium; furthermore, it is a great result for his team as they win the Italian Grand Prix for the first time since 2010. Although, it is not all good news for Ferrari as Leclerc’s teammate, Sebastian Vettel, made a series of errors including: losing control of his car on the Ascari chicane; re-entering incorrectly, leading to a collision with Lance Stroll’s Racing Point and a 10 second penalty. All of which resulted in the German finishing 13th.
With the championship all but won for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, there is not an awful lot to play for, with seven races remaining; however, this is great opportunity for young drivers like Leclerc, and most likely Verstappen in Singapore next week, to show the world what they are all about and for them to get some races notched on their belt. As all prepare for next year, a few wins towards the end of the season could result in a transfer for some, and other simply keeping their job.