Charles Leclerc secured the 2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship with his sixth victory of the season at the Circuito de Jerez, despite struggles with his tyres in Saturday’s Feature race.
Having clinched pole position on Friday in Spain, the Monegasque driver knew that victory in the Feature race would make him champion, and despite pressure from main rival Oliver Rowland and a whole host of drivers with fresher tyres following a late safety car, Leclerc held on for the win, which was his fifth Feature race of the season.
“I’m absolutely over the moon for winning the championship here in Jerez one round early,” said Leclerc, who has three more free practice outings with the Sauber F1 Team to come in 2017.
“It’s amazing but it hasn’t been an easy race because obviously, we were struggling a little bit more with the prime tyres than with the options.”
The Prema Racing driver dedicated his championship to his father Herve, who passed away ahead of the weekend in Azerbaijan back in June.
“I want to dedicate this title to my late father who has always been here for me,” said Leclerc. “He gave absolutely everything and it’s thanks to him if I won this championship.”
Had the Sprint race been a lap or two shorter, Leclerc’s result could have been better than seventh, having run fourth with just two laps remaining having climbed up from eighth on the grid.
With some drivers having made pit stops due to the high tyre wear in Jerez, he found himself vulnerable, and Luca Ghiotto, Antonio Fuoco and Nyck de Vries all found their way passed on the final lap.
“The race definitely did not go according to plans today,” said Leclerc. “We lost a little bit of time with Antonio at the beginning, then the tyres degraded too much.
“We need to work on that to improve for the final round of the season.“