Leclerc frustrated by safety car finish after Verstappen spoils Ferrari homecoming

·2-min read

Charles Leclerc expressed his frustration at finishing under the safety car as Ferrari's hopes of a home success at the Italian Grand Prix were shattered by Max Verstappen.

Leclerc began on pole for the eighth time this season after a strong qualifying performance on Saturday, but was subjected to a familiar sinking feeling at Monza as Verstappen brushed aside his pre-race five-place grid penalty.

The defending world champion – who could now seal successive titles at Singapore next time out – took advantage of another Scuderia gamble to power home, as Ferrari subjected Leclerc to an early change of tyres.

A late safety car brought on by Daniel Ricciardo's retirement then left Leclerc to sit behind Verstappen as the chequered flag approached, much to the frustrations of a partisan crowd in Italy.

The Monegasque driver made his frustrations clear over team radio as he awaited a restart which never came, shouting: "Come on! It's clear," and was still agitated after the race.

"The end was frustrating. I wish we could have ended up racing. It's a shame," he told Sky Sports.

"I gave my all, but we got P2 today. I wish I could've won in front of the amazing Tifosi we have here, I just couldn't today."

Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner also believed the race should have been allowed to restart, telling Sky Sports: "We don't want to win a race under a safety car.

"That's something that we've talked about for many, many years, that they should finish racing. There was enough time to get that race going."

Verstappen now boasts a 116-point lead over Leclerc in the drivers' championship standings, while Ferrari trail Red Bull by 139 points in the team rankings, with a series of high-profile mistakes from the Scuderia costing them dearly this campaign.

But Leclerc refused to hit out at the team's strategy when discussing his early pit stop, adding: "We didn't know what they [Red Bull] were going to do behind so we took that choice.

"Obviously we finished P2, so I'm not happy with the race. We will work on that.

"I don't know, the pace was strong. We will have to look into it, but I think we were quite strong. It just wasn't enough."