Charles Leclerc believes that the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team were able to compete with the midfield runners at the Monaco Grand Prix, before his race ended prematurely.
Leclerc, the first Monégasque driver to compete in a Formula 1 race at the principality since Olivier Beretta in 1994, was running twelfth before brake failure sent him flying into the back of Brendon Hartley‘s Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda on lap 70. The 20-year-old said that although he was disappointed to fail to see the chequered flag, he took heart from Sauber’s performance. The rejuvenated Swiss team had taken back-to-back points finishes (courtesy of Leclerc) in Azerbaijan and Spain.
“It was a tough race, and it is disappointing that I could not finish it,” he reflected.
“Everything was going quite well, we had a good pace, and were competitive in the midfield.”
Leclerc said that he lost “a bit of time” stuck behind Hartley before the accident, but could find no way through. Speaking to Autosport, the rookie accused Toro Rosso and the New Zealander of playing “a bit of a game”, suggesting that they slowed the pace by up to three seconds a lap in order to benefit the long-stinting Pierre Gasly.
“We lost a bit of time getting stuck behind Brendon for much of the race,” he said. “On a track where it is difficult to overtake, there was not much we could do.
“Unfortunately, there was an issue with my brakes just a few laps before finishing. I tried to avoid the car ahead, but I couldn’t do anything.”
This morning, Sauber announced that they have bolstered their technical ranks, employing Simone Resta – formerly Head of Vehicle Project Coordination at Scuderia Ferrari – as Technical Director, replacing Jörg Zander who was released from his position at the start of month.