Charles Leclerc won the 2019 Italian Grand Prix, but not after resisting the onslaught from Lewis Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas, however, was unable to mount a challenge for the race win. Let’s take a look at how the race developed for the previously mentioned drivers.
The current Drivers’ World Championship leader had to settle for 3rd place in Monza, but he did everything he could in order to get the race victory. From lap 28 until lap 41, Lewis put as much pressure as he could on Charles Lecler. The Britishman had an average delta to Charles of 0.727 seconds per lap, even after considering laps 39 to 41, when his tires were starting to fade away. Lewis at the end made the right choice. As a Championship leader, a second or third place are good enough to continue his clear path towards another Formula 1 victorious season.
Valtteri got second place after overtaking Lewis on the first corner of the track. The Finn managed to get within 2 seconds of Charles Leclerc on lap 42, all while using a softer compound (medium vs hard) that was 7 laps younger. Bottas, however, was never a real danger to the Monegasque. The Mercedes driver only managed to get within a 1 second gap on the 3 of the 12 laps when he was in pursuit. His average gap at the start line of 1.247 seconds meant that Valtteri did not have many opportunities to use the all powerful DRS system in Monza.
Lewis was behind Charles Leclerc on 14 laps after stopping for new tires. On only one occasion, he failed to stay within 1 second of the race leader. Valtteri never managed to get close enough to Charles. Yes, the situation was different, since he had older tires than Hamilton did when he chased Charles, but he was racing in clean air after his first and last pit stop. Either Valtteri just failed to get the car in a good position to overtake due to the lack of pace, of he failed to keep the tires alive for the end of the race. Either way, he had another chance for victory and once again did not do enough.
Charles Leclerc deserves praise for fending off both of the Mercedes drivers. Lewis tried to overtkae, but it is not hard to see that he is playing the long game. Bottas, on the other hand, is unlikely to challenge for the WDC, and had nothing to lose by attacking Leclerc as hard as possible. His failure to even put Charles under hard pressure makes me go back to the beginning of last season. Do you still remember when people were calling him “weak”? It feels like that criticism, which seemed long gone, may come back soon unless he manages to get a strong result in Singapore.
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