'Disaster' first stint compromised my Eifel Grand Prix says Ferrari's Leclerc
Charles Leclerc qualified a stellar fourth for the Eifel Grand Prix, but he went backwards in the race, eventually finishing seventh – and he said it was the first stint where it all went wrong.
Starting the race on soft tyres, Leclerc struggled to hold on to P4 as he lost out to Renault’s eventual podium-finisher Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 8 before pitting for mediums. That nine-lap soft-tyred stint warded the Monegasque off from opting for softs for the final ten lap dash after the Safety Car, and he ended up seventh behind Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri.
Explaining what happened on the Lap 50 Safety Car restart, caused by Lando Norris's retirement, he said: “On one side I wanted to try the softs but looking at the first part of the race, it was a disaster for us. We didn’t take a risk and we [re-]started on the medium.
“On the soft we struggled massively, which compromised [our race] massively, then we went for a two-stop strategy, which, I think, was the right thing to do. It was very tricky towards the end because with the Safety Car, I had old [medium] tyres to start again and they were very cold,” he said.
“But I think we managed pretty well, so some quite good overtaking [moves], which were fun, but seventh was the best we could do today.”
Although he and team mate Sebastian Vettel struggled at the Nurburgring for race pace, Leclerc did have some positives to take away from the Eifel Grand Prix as he praised Ferrari’s latest upgrades.
“I am happy with the overall improvement we have seen in recent weeks. We are not yet where we want to be, but every small step is going in the right direction and this is what we need,” he concluded.
Ferrari’s last podium came at the British Grand Prix, where Leclerc finished third from P4 on the grid – and while hopes of a repeat were quashed today, the team will have another chance at in two week's time at the first Portuguese Grand Prix since 1996.