A look at what Charles Leclerc’s win did for the 2019 season
Ferrari may only have an outside chance of winning the Formula 1 championship this year, but fans of the longest-tenured team in the sport cheered plenty as Charles Leclerc crossed the line first at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. In his first season with the team, Leclerc took his second career and consecutive win, giving Ferrari their first home win in almost 10 years.
Formula 1 is the top category of open-wheel motorsport supported by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and races internationally in 21 different countries. The current grid features 10 teams, most of which are based in Britain. Each team runs two cars for each race with championship points being scored in the top 10 positions and fastest race lap. Front-running teams like Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing Honda are currently spending anywhere between $315 million and $410 million per season to stay competitive.
Since a shift to turbo-hybrid V6 engines in 2014, the Mercedes F1 team has been dominant, winning eight combined drivers and constructor’s championships. This has left fans of Ferrari in a painful situation, watching their team lose time and time again. Italian fans of Ferrari are also known as the Tifosi, and the recent pecking order had deprived them and Formula 1 of Ferrari success at the legendary Monza circuit only two hours away from their Italian factory in Maranello.
The win for Ferrari at the 2019 Italian Grand Prix is more important than just another win for the Italian automaker. There has been a sense of dissatisfaction with F1 over the past few years due to Mercedes being mostly untouchable. This was not the case when Leclerc won in Italy this season though. Social media accounts relating to F1 blew up as Ferrari fans and the motorsports community celebrated the 21-year-old winning in front of the Tifosi.
The race itself was exciting, with wheel-to-wheel battles happening all over the track. Leclerc proved himself in an outright fight against four-time champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in a series of moves that toed the line between legal and penalty-inducing. This was perfect in a gutsy on-track performance that had the fans present cheering all day. The strategic aspect of the race kept fans on the edge of their seats wondering who would come out on top after all the pit stops had been completed.
While the race was a spectacle, the podium celebrations were where it became clear that this Grand Prix will likely go down in F1 history. The loyal Tifosi flooded the track below the podium in a sea of scarlet smoke and flags. The cheers only grew louder as the champion of the Italian fans stepped onto the top step punching the air in victory. Leclerc’s win may be heralded as the start of a legacy in F1, but even if Hamilton goes on to claim the championship Ferrari fans will remember the 2019 season because of this win.