Lewis Hamilton last Monday told the press that he expects more success for his triumphant Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc and tipped the Monegasque driver as the favorite for this week’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
After finishing right behind Leclerc at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, a race weekend overshadowed by the freak death of French Formula Two driver Anthoine Hubert a day earlier, Hamilton told that having finally secured his maiden win, Leclerc would now go on to claim more victories.
“Ferrari is going to have a happy weekend at Monza,” claimed the defending five-time champion and current series leader.
“They are so much faster than we and
Monza are all straights … We will do our best, but it is going to be a tough job to match them.”
Hamilton widened his lead in this year’s title race to 69 points ahead of re-signed Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who came home third and was quick to praise 21-year-old Leclerc for his performance and for not cracking under pressure.
Leclerc, who began from pole and withstood intense Hamilton pressure as he raced him in the closing laps, dedicated his win to his late friend Hubert.
“He did a great job,” said Hamilton. “Even if we had different strategies, it would have been hard to have beaten him. He deserved to win.”
Leclerc, widely regarded as a future superstar, conducted himself with grace and humanity on and off the circuit during an intense race weekend that saw him close within 12 points of his Ferrari team-mate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ standings.
He has now out-qualified Vettel at six races in succession, leaving the German in a spot of bothering to retain his status as Ferrari’s lead driver.
On Sunday, Vettel was ordered to pull over and let Leclerc pass mid-race en route to finishing fourth. It is now more than a year since his last win, incidentally at Belgium in 2018.