Charles Leclerc felt he and his Scuderia Ferrari team extracted the most they could have done on Sunday at the Baku City Circuit, with the Monegasque racer claiming fifth position, plus the bonus point for fastest lap.
Leclerc had been favourite for pole position during Saturday’s Qualifying session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix but blew his opportunity by crashing into the barriers at turn eight, but penalties ahead of him promoted him from tenth to eighth on the grid, albeit on the medium Pirelli tyre.
Others around him started on the soft tyre, meaning the first few laps he found himself fighting against them as he attempted to generate temperature into his mediums, but once he achieved that, he fought through the field and, when everyone else had made their stops to switch to the mediums, he inherited the lead.
Unfortunately, those on fresher tyres had the pace advantage and Leclerc fell back to fifth when he made his pit stop and knowing he couldn’t better that position he took a third stop for fresh soft tyres and took the fastest lap bonus point.
“We extracted the most we could have done out of today’s race,” said Leclerc. “After the setback in qualifying, I started from P8 on medium tyres. It was a bit tricky in the beginning, because everyone around me was starting on the soft compound while I struggled a little bit to get up to speed.
“Once I got the tyres up to temperature, I had good grip and the situation improved. We had a strong first stint and were able to gain some positions there. After the pit-stop it became clear that we would not be able to move further up the order, so we decided to stop pushing to save the tyres, pitted for a new set and so I was able to bring home the point for the fastest lap at the end.”
Leclerc acknowledged that there was definitely potential in the SF90H for a better result than what was ultimately achieved, but it is up to him and the team to come back fighting in the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks time as he bids for his maiden Formula 1 victory.
“Overall, it hasn’t been the best weekend but our potential was clearly there and I hope that we will have a much better performance at the next GP in Spain again,” concluded Leclerc.