Charles Leclerc: “It was not an ideal race”

Credit: Sauber Motorsport AG

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team rookie Charles Leclerc bemoaned a testing race in China last weekend, but vowed that both he and Sauber will return strongly at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Leclerc spun at Turn 2 moments before Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda duo Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley‘s race-changing collision on lap 30, suffering minor floor damage and leaving him to finish in nineteenth – the last of the classified finishers.

“It was not an ideal race today,” said Leclerc. “I started on a set of soft tyres. I was quite happy with my pace, and managed to advance to the midfield.”

Leclerc had shown consistent pace until the error, with the damage suffered causing balance issues for the young Monégasque.

“Shortly after I changed to the set of medium tyres, I spun into the gravel,” he added. “I picked up some damage to the floor, and started having some trouble with the balance of the car.

“Unfortunately, I lost a couple of positions there.”

Leclerc is yet to finish ahead of his Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson – who picked up two vital points for the team in the Bahrain Grand Prix – when they are both classified. However, the 20-year-old said that the team will look at their performance and return stronger for the potentially chaotic Baku race. Leclerc enjoyed a fruitful weekend in the Azeri capital last year on his way to the FIA Formula 2 championship; taking pole position, two fastest laps and victory in the red-flagged feature race.

“We will look at our data and make sure that we are ready to do the best job possible in Baku.”