Charles Leclerc did not expect sixth place in F1 Russian GP as he feels Ferrari upgrades brought some relief with few more to come in Nurburgring.
Heading into the F1 Russian GP, Leclerc was not anticipating a great result. It wasn’t pessimism that drove him to the conclusion that a good result was an unlikelihood. No, far more so, this was realism; or at least it seemed it at the time.
A track considered one that isn’t particularly suited to Ferrari’s car, Sochi was expected to deliver underwhelming results for the Italian marque. It transpired, though, that the team – and Leclerc specifically – maintained good pace throughout the duration of the weekend, the Monegasque making it to the finish of the race in sixth place.
For Leclerc, it was a welcome end to a poor weekend. “It was a bit of a surprise,” he shared to TV media. “Friday I did quite a bad job in the car, especially during the race simulation with the tyres and the pace. I did not expect to do such a good job and P6 was definitely the best we could do.
“We are coming back from very, very difficult weekends, and mentally it was very difficult. When you do a good start like I did in Mugello, and then get overtaken lap after lap, it’s very difficult to accept. Finally, to have a race where I can see positive signs, and also from myself, because I think I drove well and I’m happy about,” summed up Leclerc.
Believed to have played a part in the relative success of his race was minor upgrades brought to Russia by Ferrari, with an emphasis on the car’s rear end. “Driving-wise, it’s not like we feel a big difference, but the data says that it’s a small gain, which is what we expected,” Leclerc said of the upgrades.
“This is already positive. Now I’m looking forward to the next race where normally we’ll have some updates a bit bigger. I think overall, we did a better job with the balance of the car. On my side, the balance was pretty nice throughout the race, which helped me to perform at my best.
“That’s where I struggled the most in Mugello, but the car was quite good to drive at Sochi. It helped me to extract the maximum out of it. Now I’m looking forward to the next race where normally we’ll have some updates a bit bigger,” Leclerc added.
Team principal Mattia Binotto added that updates to come will likely focus on the same area of the car to media including Motorsport Network, Racefans.net, BBC, Reuters and more. “We have a few more upgrades in Nurburgring, but again not major,” he said. “Even if sixth is not a great result for a team like Ferrari.
“Especially when combined with the other car finishing outside the points in 13th place as was the case with Sebastian Vettel. Still for us, I think important considering the level of competitiveness. We will focus mainly on the diffuser for the remaining part of the season, but by when, it’s not yet defined.”
It was a clean run for Leclerc where he had little help from teammate Sebastian Vettel as well, who managed to keep Renault at bay. This allowed only Daniel Ricciardo to pass through but Esteban Ocon lost out to the Monegasque along with Pierre Gasly.
It wasn’t a straight start for Leclerc still as he was involved in a tangle with Lance Stroll at the start, something which irked the Canadian as the Monegasque wasn’t penalised for the same. Explaining his side, the Ferrari driver said he lost control due to Sergio Perez’s wake.
“On my side for the crash, I think I tried to go on the inside of Lance in Turn 4,” said Leclerc. “Then in the middle of the corner, Perez took the apex. When I was behind him, I understeered quite a bit, and as a consequence, I made contact with Lance. Then on the re-joining, I think maybe there is something better to do with the way we are re-joining the track. But overall, that’s it on my side, my call to improve.”
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