Charles Leclerc overcame Alexander Albon on the final lap of the Sprint race in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to end his FIA Formula 2 Championship career in the best possible manner, with the Monegasque driver set to advance into Formula 1 next season.
The Prema Racing driver managed his race and his tyres superbly, and admitted he was delighted with the outcome of the final race of the year, particularly as he had not been happy with the way his weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit began on Friday, which left him sixth on the grid for the Feature race.
“It feels great to win the race and to finish the season on an high,” said Leclerc. “In terms of tyre management we were very, very good today.
“This was probably one of the most positive races I had since the beginning of the season and I’m even happier considering that Friday we were struggling. We made a massive step throughout the weekend.”
Leclerc had finished fourth on the road in the Feature race only to inherit second place when Oliver Rowland and Antonio Fuoco were disqualified ahead of him, and he soon made gains on Sunday, passing Nyck de Vries, Nobuharu Matsushita and Nicholas Latifi in quick succession, but his move for the lead was audacious at best.
The twenty-year-old followed Albon for a handful of laps, and with a yellow flag removing the use of DRS for the closing laps, it looked as though Leclerc would be forced to settle for second again, but after a gentle tap on his rival exiting turn eight allowed him a run on the Thai ART Grand Prix driver, and he got inside of Albon into the next turn.
“Regarding the end, for several laps there had been a pointless yellow flag there so we didn’t have the DRS,” said Leclerc. “I knew that my tyres were in a very good shape.
“People was going wide in turn seven so I committed in the last lap, Alex closed but it was late for me so we touched. It was a bit on the limit but I passed him before turn eight…”