Binotto lauds Leclerc after 'overdue' Monza win for Ferrari

Race winner Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari celebrates on the podium.
© XPB 

Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto was a very happy man on Sunday afternoon as he joined in the celebrations of the the jubilant Tifosi following the team's victory in the Italian Grand Prix.

Ferrari last won its prestigious home race in 2010 when Fernando Alonso delivered victory a narrow victory over McLaren's Jenson Button. This latest victory came in the official 90th anniversary year of the event, which Ferrari have now won on 20 occasions - more than any other team.

But the team had been without a win in 2019 until last weekend in Spa, when Charles Leclerc finally picked up a maiden victory. To repeat the feat just seven days later was almost beyond a dream come true for Binotto.

"I can tell you what it feels like to a Ferrari person, it doesn't matter whether you're a team boss or a mechanic, this is just a great feeling," he told Sky Sports F1 after the race.

"It's just been a great week after Spa. It was a difficult start to the season, so to win two in a row is something special and certainly here in Monza, Italy for our fans - very happy!

"It's the one that you want to win, and it's been too long that we're not winning here. Buit it's very difficult, and today has been tight and tough again," he admitted.

"I'm very happy with the result - very, very happy - but I'm quite tired!" he said, looking visibly drained by the emotion and intensity of the moment.

Binotto couldn't speak highly enough of Leclerc in particular, the man who appears to have rejuvenated the team since the summer break.

"After the summer break he's driving fantastically as we can see from how hs defended his position today with very little mistakes," he said. "He feels the pressure as a boost and he's certainly driving very well."

Starting from pole position after Saturday's controversial qualifying session, the 21-year-old soaked up race-long pressure from the two Mercedes drivers but held out to the finish.

“He's driving very well, we can see how he defended his position today," offered Binotto. "Probably starting on pole and staying ahead in the race has been a key factor.

Fans at the podium. 08.09.2019.

Binotto also felt that the team's decision to put hard compound tyres on Leclerc's car when he pitted on lap 19 had proved to be a decisive one in terms of the outcome of the race.

Leclerc was able to use them to hold off early attacks from Lewis Hamilton, and they also proved sufficiently durable to still be a match for Valtteri Bottas in the closing laps.

"We put on the hard tyres which we believed was the right choice," Binotto explained. “We knew that the wear would have been critical.

"We knew that the rear tyres on the soft were almost to the end at the first stint, so the best way to protect was to be on the hard.

"We knew that we could at least try and and defend the position on the straights but we needed to have the right pace at the end.

"The choice for the hard tyre was a brave decision, but the right decision."

Unfortunately, as much of a dream as the race had turned out for Leclerc, the situation proved more like a nightmare for his team mate Sebastian Vettel.

The four-time world champion spun off at Ascari on lap 6, and then clipped another car as he came back on track which damaged his front wing. He was further compromised by a stop-and-go penalty for coming back on track in an unsafe manner.

"I haven't talked to Seb yet," Binotto said. "Not yet, he's busy doing interviews. I'll see him later. It is really a shame.

"He was closing the gap on Bottas ahead so he could have had a good race as well today. It's a shame, but I've not spoken to him."

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