Charles Leclerc says standing on the Monza podium after triumphing in the 2019 Italian Grand Prix for Ferrari “gave me chills” as the Tifosi celebrated below him.
After starting from pole, Leclerc survived sustained pressure from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton throughout the race, which he eventually won ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Hamilton completing the podium. It was Leclerc’s second career F1 victory and his second in a week after he beat Hamilton to take a breakthrough win at Spa.
“It’s very difficult to find the words to describe what I felt during this race [at Monza],” said Leclerc, who was speaking on-stage at Autosport International 2020. “I had a lot of pressure – the whole team had a lot of pressure – because obviously we were in Italy, Ferrari is huge in Italy, and everyone wanted us to win so there was big pressure around the whole team.
“The week started from the Monday, which is quite different from the other grands prix because normally as drivers we start on the Thursday, but we started on the Monday with some events in Milan and things like this.
“So the pressure was building up. Then doing the pole was something special already, but then I had to focus on the race and in the race I had no space to breathe. I had Lewis all the race at less than two seconds, I think, so a lot of pressure.
“And then to be on the podium, to finally have won the race, and to see the red army under the podium was something extremely special.
“It gave me chills and made me realise what it is like to be a Ferrari driver, which of course I realised a little bit before, but I think you really realise it once you win in Monza and see the passion [that] you can really see in the eyes of the people – the passion that they have for the brand. It’s unbelievable to see.”
Race winner Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, celebrates on the podium
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
Podium: race winner Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Photo by: Alessio Morgese / Luca Rossini
Leclerc’s wins during the 2019 season made him the 39th driver to have won world championship races for Ferrari.
When asked if he now feels part of Ferrari’s rich history now that he has achieved F1 success with the team, Leclerc said: “Yeah, definitely. The fans make me feel this way and it’s great to feel that way, but then of course, whenever I stand next to Mario [Andretti] or legends like this I don’t feel at the right place, but now it’s up to me to do the job on the track and to try and show my abilities.”