Leclerc frustrated by safety car finish in Monza


Ferrari's Charles Leclerc wasn't happy to miss out on a last chance to challenge Red Bull rival Max Verstappen for victory at the end of today's Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

Leclerc had started the race on pole position with Verstappen only P7 because of grid penalties caused by taking more engine components this weekend.

But by the time Leclerc pitted on lap 12, Verstappen had already overcome that setback and duly took over the lead for the first time.

Leclerc briefly resumed the lead after Verstappen made his own stop, but a second visit to the pits for Leclerc left the Red Bull in an unassailable position by the time Daniel Ricciardo's retirement triggered a late safety car.

Leclerc hoped to be able to mount a last minute attack then the race resumed, but instead there was no time for the race to restart and it finished behind the safety car with Verstappen claiming victory and Leclerc second ahead of Mercedes' George Russell.

"Starting from pole, I did want to take the win. However, that’s not how it went today. Seeing our Tifosi under the podium made it a lot better.

“The end was frustrating,” Leclerc admitted when interviewed by Martin Brundle in parc ferme after the finish. “I wish we could have ended up racing.

"Unfortunately we were second at that place because of what happened before," he acknowledged. “It’s a shame, but overall I gave it all.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 makes a pit stop. 11.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Race

"I wish I could have won in front of the amazing Tifosi we have here but I just couldn’t today," he sighed. "Our pace was good and we have to keep in mind that our expectations for this track were not very high.

Asked if he felt that the decision to pit early and move to a set of medium tyres had been the wrong call, Leclerc said: "We’ll have to look into it.

"Obviously we finished P2 so I’m not extremely happy with the race, but we’ll work on that," he continued. "I think we were quite strong and it just wasn’t enough.”

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75. 11.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Race

The result means that Leclerc has fallen further behind Verstappen in the drivers championship, with 116 points now between them with just six races remaining in 2022.

Theoretically that gives Verstappen an outside chance of securing the title as early as the next race in Singapore at the start of October.

Leclerc was even denied the bonus point for fastest lap of the race today after Red Bull put Verstappen's team mate Sergio Perez back out on a new set of soft tyres toward the end of the race.

"We have made some positive progress and were more competitive this weekend, so I am looking forward to be back racing in Singapore."

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari F1-75. 11.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Race

Leclerc's team mate Carlos Sainz battled his way up from P18 at the start to take fourth at the chequered flag.

"A good race!" the Spanish driver said. "I felt comfortable right from the start, overtaking cars nearly every lap and climbing to P4 very early on.

"I’m happy with the performance and the comeback, but looking at our pace I was hoping to be on the podium in front of all the Tifosi.

"Even when the Safety Car came out, I would have had a great opportunity at the restart with my new set of Softs, but unfortunately the race finished as it did and neither scenario happened."

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