Racing line: Meet Formula One's new star under the lights, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc
Formula One has a new star. Charles Leclerc.
He’s bold, calmly-aggressive, has shown qualities of what it takes to lead a team into battle and, has begun to inject some supreme confidence into Ferrari’s 2019 campaign.
Although it may be a bit late, it’s better than never. Leading the Scuderia from the front was solely Sebastian Vettel’s KRA for the past couple of seasons.
But, the German has lost out to arch-rival Lewis Hamilton and led the reds nowhere near contention.
This year the car hasn’t suited him on all occasions, but he’s managed to stay ahead of Leclerc in the standings whilst the youngster has taken time to find his rhythm.
But, at Monza, the traditional home-track of Ferrari, Vettel cut a sorry figure after spinning out on his own and earning himself an embarrassing 10-second penalty that saw him relegated to dead last.
He eventually finished in P13, a non-points-scoring position.
A weekend to forget then for the four-time world champion. Leclerc’s back-to-back wins at Spa and Monza for Ferrari will definitely swing the psyche in the team behind him.
If Vettel cannot find his Red Bull-days’ magic soon, it’s hard to imagine why the legendary Italian marque will retain him next season.
Behind the pole-position-starting Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas gave hard chase.
While both the Mercedes cars came close to attacking car number 16, in reality, the SF90 was just too quick.
Like Belgium, it had the perfect straight-line speed advantage and was better on tyre wear too.
On Lap 23 when Hamilton looked like he had an opportunity at the Roggia chicane, Leclerc stuck his elbows out and muscled the Briton into taking the escape route.
He earned himself a black and white warning flag from the stewards but more importantly the loudest cheers from the Italian fans at the grandstands!
The Marina Bay night race at Singapore is up next. It’s going to be hotter this year with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers performing live at the Grand Prix immediately after the race!
Hopefully, Leclerc will be suitably entertained offtrack as he’s fully aware that the SF90’s characteristics aren’t a match for Max Verstappen’s Red Bull or Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes around the twisty street course.
The writer is a motorsports enthusiast who will cover the 2019 FIA Formula One™ season exclusively for Indulge.