'Crazy' Monza win highlight of Leclerc's first season at Ferrari

Abu Dhabi (AFP) –


Charles Leclerc took time out at this weekend's season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to reflect on his first year at Ferrari and the mayhem generated by his "crazy" win at Monza.

It was "probably the best week of my whole life" Leclerc told AFP of his Italian Grand Prix success.

The 22-year-old Monegasque dealt admirably with the massive pressure of the celebrations for Ferrari's 90th anniversary to secure pole and a first home win for his team since 2010.

"Very difficult to put into words what I felt on the podium with hundreds and thousands of people underneath me yelling my name, yelling the Ferrari name.

"It was very, very special."

Acknowledging the weight of expectation, he added: "The whole country was behind us and counted on us to win the race.

"So it was very tricky but at the end I managed to keep the pressure behind me and focus on the job and I was extremely happy to give the win to first all the team and also the whole country that was behind us."

The weekend before Leclerc had gained his maiden F1 win at Spa-Francorchamps in a "bittersweet" moment with the breakthrough victory coming 24 hours after his friend Anthoine Hubert died in a horrific crash.

"Spa was a bit of weird weekend because obviously on the Saturday it was very sad because I lost one of my friends in a crash... but at the end it was my first victory in F1. That was a moment I had been waiting for since I started in karting.

"You always dream about winning in F1 and this day had happened. So it was probably not the best weekend to win there because of what happened but it was special anyway."

Leclerc, speaking at an event organised by Ferrari sponsor Hublot, secured his career first pole in only his second race for the F1 giants in Bahrain.

"I didn't expect it so early in the season," said Leclerc who ends the 2019 campaign with seven poles -- an indication of his speed, skill and sang-froid.

His vastly more experienced teammate, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, only mustered two pole positions.

In Bahrain, he was all set to translate pole into a remarkable win before a mechanical issue late on left him having to settle for third.

"Yes, it was frustrating but it's part of motorsport in the end, so I understood quite quickly the situation and I focused ahead."

Leclerc starts on the second row alongside Vettel for Sunday's race in Abu Dhabi.