Leclerc 'gave it everything' to try and snatch P2
Mercedes secured their sixth one-two of the season at the French Grand Prix – but despite the apparent superiority of the Silver Arrows at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Charles Leclerc nearly spoiled their party, with the Monegasque pushing hard in the final laps to steal Valtteri Bottas’s second place.
Having run close to the #77 Mercedes throughout the race, Leclerc made a strong restart after a Virtual Safety Car was brought out three laps from the end to pile the pressure on Bottas. On the 53rd of 53 laps, Leclerc hammered through the final sector and was just metres behind the Finn going through the final corner, eventually crossing the line just 0.929s adrift in third place.
“I gave it everything obviously,” said Leclerc. “The second stint was all about tyre management, I think we did a very, very good job on that and it was at the end I was catching Valtteri. I think he struggled to turn his tyre on again after the VSC so I saw an opportunity but unfortunately there were not enough laps for me to try something.”
Seeing where we were on Friday after the race simulations, I think it was a great day for us
Leclerc’s efforts, with Sebastian Vettel coming home in P5, were alas not enough to stop Mercedes stretching their lead in the constructors’ standings to a mammoth 140 points. But the result at Paul Ricard, and the fact that both Mercedes didn't simply drive off into the distance, nevertheless gave Leclerc hope that Ferrari had something to build on going forward.
“Seeing where we were on Friday after the race simulations [which suggested that Mercedes had a 0.7s per lap race pace advantage] I think it was a great day for us,” said Leclerc. “We have brought some new parts this weekend; some were good, some others not but clearly Mercedes are better now, so we need to work and try and catch up.”