Leclerc bounces back to continue fine points form
When Charles Leclerc dropped all the way down to 19th after just two laps of the Austrian Grand Prix, he faced an uphill battle to keep his impressive points streak going. But the highly-rated Sauber driver bounced back with another strong drive to come home ninth, securing his fifth top-ten finish in the last six races…
This weekend, the second part of Formula 1's first-ever triple header, has been one in which Leclerc has had to show his character. He was handed a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, dropping him down to 17th for the race start, but he immediately displayed his attacking prowess to climb up three places.
That early work, however, was undone when he took a trip through the gravel on Lap 2, pushing him back down the field. While benefitting from the retirements of several cars ahead, he then battled hard to secure another top-ten finish in his rookie F1 season.
“I did a mistake in the early laps which cost us - and that was a little bit of a shame,” said Leclerc. “After advancing quite a bit at the start, I fell back after a few laps and had a tough job ahead of me to recover enough positions to score some points.
“But after that, I think it’s the best race of this year. It was an exciting day. There was a lot of action during the race, and some good overtakes, so I really enjoyed driving today.
“The strategy was a little bit difficult because we went on the softs very early and it was very difficult for the rear tyres at the end. But I managed to get another two points again.”
It won’t just be Leclerc who’s smiling at Sauber on Sunday night, with team mate Marcus Ericsson coming home tenth. It’s the first time the Swiss team have had two cars in the points since the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix.
And in a clear display of teamwork towards the race end, Leclerc let Ericsson by to see if the Swede could make more of an impression attacking Fernando Alonso's McLaren for eighth - when he couldn't, Ericsson duly gave the place back.
“It is great for the team that both cars finished in the top 10," added Leclerc. "This is an extra boost of motivation for all of us ahead of the upcoming races, and I look forward to seeing what they will have in store for us.”
His 13-point season haul means Leclerc now sits 14th in the drivers’ standings. And his result today, coupled with Ericsson’s P10, puts Sauber just three points behind eighth-placed Toro Rosso in the constructors’ championship.