Formula 1

Charles Leclerc: “The only thing I could think of was winning and that’s what we did”

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Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Charles Leclerc admitted to struggling for words to the experience of winning for Scuderia Ferrari at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on Sunday as the Monegasque racer single-handedly defeated the Mercedes AMG Motorsport team.

Leclerc started from pole position for the fourth time in 2019 and just about held onto the lead at the start, but the twenty-one-year-old was forced to defend, first from Lewis Hamilton and then from Valtteri Bottas, with some of the moves robust and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in Formula 1.

With the adoring Tifosi watching on and cheering from the packed grandstands, Leclerc etched himself into Ferrari folklore by winning at Monza, his second victory of what is turning out to be a hugely impressive first year with the Maranello-based outfit.

“There are no words to describe the emotions I felt during the race, after the race, or on the podium,” said Leclerc.  “It felt ten times stronger than anything I have ever experienced in my whole career. It was very special.

“When I arrive at a race weekend, I usually don’t think about winning, I just try to do the best job possible and tell myself that the results will come. But to be honest, seeing all of the support from our tifosi here in Monza this weekend, the only thing I could think of was winning and that’s what we did, so I am very happy.”

Leclerc felt the race was an exciting one, with the former FIA Formula 2 champion feeling he was in full control in the first stint, but the second stint was far from simple as the two Mercedes drivers attacked him for the lead.

Never-the-less, Leclerc held on for the victory and now moves ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel into fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship and is just three points away from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in third.

“The race was exciting,” admitted Leclerc.  “The first stint was quite controlled, but the second stint was a bit less strong on my side, because I had to focus on the car behind me a lot as the gap was closing. It was very difficult and I had a lot of pressure on me.

“I’d like to thank the whole team for all their hard work. Nothing would be possible without them. It was a shame for Seb, who definitely had the potential to be on the podium with me.

“For the next few races, we have to keep our focus, our motivation, and hopefully the results will follow.”

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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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