It’s been a tough start to the 2020 F1 world championship for Ferrari, but a ‘lucky’ podium for Charles Leclerc in Sunday’s British Grand Prix has provided the team with a much needed boost.
Leclerc admitted that despite starting from fourth place on the grid, a podium had looked distinctly unlikely given the performance advantage of the two Mercedes drivers, as well as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
But a sudden tyre failure for Valtteri Bottas with just minites to go in the race put Leclerc up into third place at the chequered flag.
- Hamilton clings on for victory amid last lap tyre drama
“I’m very happy with P3, even though I know we’re lucky to be P3,” Leclerc told the media immediately after the race. “But even [when we were running in] P4 I was very happy with the way we managed the race.
“I think we have done the best of what we could have done today.
“We don’t want to be fighting for fourth for too long, but I’m very happy we gave it everything and maximised everything we’ve got in hand.
“In terms of strategy and tyre management it wasn’t easy, but we made it work,” he said. “The performance of the car is not where we want it to be but we took every opportunity and I’m very happy about today.”
Moments after Bottas hit problems, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz also experienced a sudden tyre delamination. And on the final lap, longtime race leader Lewis Hamilton suffered a puncture as well.
“As soon as I heard that Valtteri had a tyre problem I slowed down quite a lot but then I think Carlos had it a lap later and then Lewis a lap later,” recalled Leclerc.
“I don’t know what the cause is,” he continued. “Whether there was debris on the track or whatever. But I think Lewis cut the corner on another place on track than Valtteri, so it is probably true to review … Probably the Pirelli guys will investigate that.”
Leclerc certainly felt that the team had learned a lot this weekend that should put them in good stead for the second of the doubleheader races at Silverstone in seven days time.
“It was a very tricky race,” he said. “We’ve learned a few things this weekend and I hope we can improve next weekend.
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“We will still be as aggressive as the approach we took for this weekend, in terms of downforce which makes it even harder for the race and tyre degradation.”
Leclerc’s team mate Sebastian Vettel was less fortunate, starting and finishing in tenth place and making no progress during the 53 lap event and he explained afterwards that he’d had very little confidence in the SF1000 throughout.
“I tried everything. I tried to change my driving style almost every second or third lap,” he said. “Every time I tried to brake later, I had difficulties keeping the car on the track.”
“There is something fundamentally wrong somewhere, either with me or the car,” he added. “The way it is now, we are not getting anywhere.”
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