Charles Leclerc reckons he could have finished one place higher in Sunday’s running order at Zandvoort had he qualified better the day before.
The Ferrari driver concluded his Dutch Grand Prix in fifth place, almost five seconds behind AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly who topped F1’s midfield on Sunday.
Leclerc believes his team executed its race perfectly and had opted for the right one stop softs-to-hard strategy. But qualifying ahead of Gasly on Saturday would have likely allowed the Monegasque to hold his own in P4.
“Happy with the pace, not completely happy with P5, because I think if we had done a better job in qualifying and had put the lap together, I think fourth place was definitely on the cards today,” said Leclerc.
“I think pace-wise we were the best in the midfield, but just difficult to show it today because we were struggling to get closer to Gasly.
“I think the main surprise for everyone was how long the mediums could last. Still, I think that the soft-hard combination was the right choice for us.”
Asked about his experience of racing at Zandvoort, Leclerc highlighted once again the thrills delivered by the Dutch track’s layout, but admitted that getting close to a rival car was a challenge.
“This track is incredible, first of all, and it’s very very challenging physically,” he said. “Towards the end of the race you feel the neck, you feel the shoulders…
“It’s great, it’s a big challenge for us and I enjoyed it.
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“Other than that you also have the challenge of staying as close as possible and to put as much pressure as you can on the car in front, which is what we did especially in the first stint with Pierre, which made him box early.
“Then we tried to do a bit of a different strategy but it didn’t work out for us today, but I think it was the right choice. We did everything good today, just could have done a little bit better in qualifying yesterday,” he repeated.
Read also: Gasly ‘pleased with everything’ after amazing P4 at Zandvoort
Leclerc’s result coupled with teammate Carlos Sainz’s run to P7 and McLaren’s single point at Zandvoort has allowed Ferrari to overhaul its papaya rival for third place in the Constructors’ standings.
“Yeah, this is good for the team,” said Leclerc. “That’s exactly what we needed this weekend.
“We know that McLaren are struggling a little bit more, that’s when we need to take those opportunities and put both cars in the points.”
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