MONZA • Charles Leclerc survived immense pressure from Lewis Hamilton yesterday to give Ferrari a first win at the Italian Grand Prix since Fernando Alonso in 2010.
The home victory at Monza sealed back-to-back triumphs for the Monaco native, who won his maiden race last Sunday in Belgium, Ferrari's first in 11 months.
Leclerc led from pole, but was hunted by five-time world champion Hamilton until the Mercedes driver braked late on lap 42 of the 53 laps and had to go through the chicane, losing second place to teammate Valtteri Bottas.
After both pitted just before the half-way stage, the pair then fought an intense battle when emerging in fourth and fifth.
In the end, it was Bottas applying the pressure on Leclerc, and the former moved to under a second behind the latter but locked his brakes with three laps to go, and could not get close enough again to attack.
Hamilton, who gained a bonus point for the fastest lap, had to make do with third place as tyre wear took its toll, but still leads the standings by 63 points over his fellow Silver Arrows driver, who was "gutted as there was no way past".
However, with his second straight win, Leclerc surpassed teammate Sebastian Vettel, who experienced a torrid time and finished 13th, to move into fourth, just three points behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who ended eighth.
"What a race! I have never been so tired," he said as a sea of red-clad fans, long starved of success in Italy, swept onto the pit straight to party below the overhanging podium with flags and flares.
Switching to Italian to address a crowd cheering a fitting win on the 90th anniversary of both Monza and Formula One's most glamorous team, he added: "Winning here is just a dream. Last weekend (in Belgium) was my first victory, but the emotion of winning here is 10 times that. Thanks to everybody. I have no words."
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
1 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1hr 15min 26.665sec
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +0.835sec
3 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes +35.199
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault +45.515
5 Niko Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault +58.165
6 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull +59.315
7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point +1:13.802
8 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +1:14.492
9 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo +1 lap
10 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren +1 lap
1 Hamilton 284pts 2 Bottas 221
3 Verstappen 185 4 Leclerc 182
5 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 169
1 Mercedes 505pts 2 Ferrari 351
3 Red Bull 266 4 McLaren 83
5 Renault 65
Praising Leclerc's race as "a great job", Hamilton said: "Congratulations to Ferrari and Charles. A lot of pressure from both Valtteri and I.
"I did the best I could. Obviously, following so closely for such a long time, the tyres eventually just went off the cliff. But, nevertheless, they were just quicker today, quicker in a straight line, so even if we did get close we couldn't pass. So not our day but still strong points for the team."
While Leclerc basked in the adulation as Ferrari's golden boy, Vettel had a miserable race after being given a 10-second stop-go penalty early on for returning to the track unsafely after spinning off at the Ascari chicane and almost causing an accident with Lance Stroll.
The Racing Point driver was overheard over team radio labelling the German's actions as driving "like an idiot" but he was lapped by both Leclerc and Hamilton on lap 33.
Stewards also handed Vettel three penalty points, taking his 12 month tally to nine. If he gets three more in the next three races, with F1 now heading to Singapore for the Sept 22 night race, he will face a one-race ban.