Leclerc admits finish line brought 'freedom' after Mercedes pressure

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Charles Leclerc admits seeing the chequered flag brought "freedom" after being chased by Mercedes throughout the Italian Grand Prix.

The Monegasque held off Lewis Hamilton, surviving two wheel-to-wheel battles, and then Valtteri Bottas in the closing laps at Monza to give Ferrari a first home win since 2010.

Acknowledging afterwards it was the most tired he had been following a race, Leclerc joked admitting it felt a lot longer than just the 53 laps.

“I don’t know how you say it in English: Libération? Freedom. More or less this,” he said in the press conference. “How many laps were there in the race? 53 laps felt a lot longer than 53 laps.

“As I’ve said, I felt a lot of pressure from behind. So, obviously, from once I crossed the finish line it is just pure happiness.”

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For Leclerc, his second victory in a week has also brought a sense of satisfaction that he had vindicated the decision by Ferrari to promote him.

“It has not been an easy start to the season, I made a few mistakes, but it is not an excuse,” he said via Crash.net. “I’ve grown a lot since the beginning of the season.

“I understood the critics of last year, me being too young as it is my second year in F1 and in Ferrari already was early for sure, but I can only thank Ferrari for believing in me. They had a lot of data which they analysed.

“It was not an easy decision. In the end, I’m happy to have these kinds of results which show that I was maybe more ready than some people thought.”

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