Charles Leclerc is confident that Scuderia Ferrari will put its disappointment behind it after again missing out on a first Formula 1 victory of the 2019 season in controversial circumstances.
Leclerc led the majority of the 71-lap Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring from pole position, but succumbed to a late charge from Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen – who claimed the first non-Mercedes AMG Motorsport victory of the year.
Leclerc and Ferrari were unhappy over the way Verstappen overtook Leclerc at Turn 3 on lap 69, the Dutchman banging wheels with Leclerc on the exit of the corner and leaving the Monégasque driver to take to the runoff area.
The incident was discussed at length by the stewards post-race, with Verstappen keeping his status as the race victor.
Following on from late mechanical troubles in Bahrain for Leclerc and a highly-debated five second time penalty for team-mate Sebastian Vettel two races ago in Canada, Ferrari is still searching for a first win of ’19 – while Leclerc is waiting for a maiden F1 victory.
But Leclerc said that the Austrian weekend was “positive” for Ferrari, who looked to have had the measure of rival Mercedes.
“It was a positive weekend overall. Unfortunately, it did not end as we would have liked it to end,” said Leclerc.
“My first stint was good and our pace was there. We pitted early to prevent losing our track position to [Valtteri] Bottas.
“This made the second stint longer and more challenging than expected, as the rear tyres degraded quite a bit towards the end of the race.”
Verstappen used a longer first stint to his advantage to catch and pass Lewis Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas and finally Leclerc on fresher hard compound tyres to take a popular victory in front of thousands of Dutch and Red Bull fans.
Having struggled with upgrades in France, Leclerc believes that the improvements shown by Ferrari in Austria will hold the team in good stead for the next few races before F1’s summer break.
“Second place is not what we wanted, but we gave it our all and made good a step forward this weekend,” Leclerc added.
“I am convinced that this will bring further progress for the next few races and allow us to achieve the success that we want.”