Delighted Leclerc says fourth place ‘feels like victory’ after strategy gamble pays off
Charles Leclerc was one of just three drivers in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix to attempt a one-stop strategy. And following a tough qualifying, the Monegasque was left delighted after eking out a 34-lap stint on his hard tyres to finish fourth at the chequered flag.
Leclerc had qualified in P8 at Silverstone, complaining to his Ferrari team that he “[couldn’t] do anything” with his SF1000 car. But after pitting just once on Lap 18 of the race (Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen also one-stopping) before running a long stint as others stopped again, Leclerc found himself third with seven laps of the Grand Prix to go.
And although a faster, fresher-rubbered Lewis Hamilton eventually dropped him to fourth, Leclerc was nonetheless extremely pleased with his day.
“I’m so happy today,” beamed Leclerc, who finished third last time out at the British Grand Prix. “For me it feels like a victory. Of course it’s not looking good once we call a fourth place a victory but at the moment it’s where we’re at.
“Last year I think my weakest point was the tyre management. I worked very hard, and every time I work and see the results on track, it’s a huge satisfaction, and to get a fourth place today… I expected to go eighth as the best-case scenario this morning or further down the grid, so extremely happy with this fourth place.”
The only slight dent in Leclerc’s satisfaction was his puzzlement at exactly where the pace in his Ferrari had come from, with Leclerc planning a thorough comb-through of the data with his engineers ahead of the next race in Spain.
“We need to analyse to understand why we were so quick because I don’t really understand,” he said. “Today was very impressive. I don’t know where we found that pace but we were very, very quick on the hard tyres, especially towards the end of the stint so extremely happy with the job we’ve done today.
“We need to look well at the data,” he added. “Yesterday was a very difficult day and today was a very good day. I think the strategy played an important part day, I pushed quite a lot the team to try and make this one-stop strategy. I think everyone was pretty scared after what happened last week with the tyres blowing and everything, but we made it work and I’m also very happy with the progress I made on the tyre management.”
Leclerc has now scored three top four finishes in 2020, while his day contrasted extremely with that of his team mate Sebastian Vettel. The German spun on his own at the first corner on Lap 1, before later scolding his race engineer over team radio for pitting him into traffic, as the two-time Silverstone winner came home in P12, having now failed to finish higher than sixth so far in what will be his final year with Ferrari.