Charles Leclerc felt positive about his performance during Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix, with the Monegasque racer believing the team has made progress with its SF1000 that enabled him to finish in a strong fourth position.
For a second consecutive race weekend, the Scuderia Ferrari driver had qualified fourth, but unlike two weeks ago in the Eifel Grand Prix, he had the race pace as well, and drove superbly to finish just outside of the podium places.
He lost a few places at the start as a result of starting on the medium tyre with light rain falling, but once the tyres were up to temperature, he was able to focus on his driving and regain his starting position.
“We had a strong race and we are seeing some progress, which is very encouraging for the whole team and for me personally,” said Leclerc. “We worked very hard on our race pace and finally we have had a weekend with both a decent qualifying and a good race, so I am very pleased.
“The first stint was tricky. In the first few laps I had to keep focused as I was losing quite a lot of positions because we started on the Mediums. Lap after lap we got back to where we wanted to be and it was amazing.”
Leclerc felt the updates that have been brought to the car in recent races have enabled him to gain confidence behind the wheel, and he is now being rewarded with good points finishes. He now sits fifth in the Drivers’ Championship standings with five races remaining, and just five points behind Daniel Ricciardo.
“It’s good to see the progress the team is making race after race,” said Leclerc. “If I look at my personal performance so far it has been a good season.
“I still have work to do, there are definitely a lot of things I still need to improve and I hope that looking back at this year I will remember it as a positive one.”
“I can’t be satisfied with any race where I only manage to take a single point” – Sebastian Vettel
Whereas Leclerc was racing to fourth, team-mate Sebastian Vettel was enduring yet another tough day, although he was able to deny his former team-mate Kimi Räikkönen the final point by finishing tenth.
The German had started well outside the top ten after a difficult Qualifying session on Saturday, and he lost a further place at the start to fall to sixteenth. His race was ruled by traffic as, when in clear air, he appeared to have much better pace than his result would show.
Vettel still sits outside the top ten in the Drivers’ Championship in thirteenth with just eighteen points to his name. He is twenty-two points away from Esteban Ocon in twelfth with just the five races of the season remaining.
“I can’t be satisfied with any race where I only manage to take a single point,” said Vettel. “Unfortunately, I didn’t make a good getaway, so instead of gaining places I lost one – and for us this season it is not so easy to overtake.
“When I had an empty track ahead of me the pace was quite good and this is what I will take away as the positive from here. With better qualifying we could have ended up with a more satisfying result.”
“Overall, this was quite a positive race” – Mattia Binotto
Mattia Binotto, the Team Principal of the Maranello-based squad, felt the race at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve was a ‘positive’ one for Ferrari, mainly thanks to both drivers being able to score points on Sunday.
Prior to the race in Portugal, Ferrari had only scored points with both cars in the same race on three occasions, but they were able to score an important thirteen points towards the Constructors’ Championship.
Binotto praised Leclerc for his ‘mature’ performance during the race, but the most important thing for Ferrari is to continue the recent progress they’ve made with the car in order to close down the gap to those ahead of them in the Constructors’ Championship. They are twenty-seven points behind the Renault DP World F1 Team who currently hold fifth.
“Overall, this was quite a positive race,” said Binotto. “We scored points with both drivers, with Charles finishing in his start position, while Sebastian managed to take the last available point.
“Charles had an excellent race, very mature. We knew that the first lap would be treacherous and so it proved, not least due to the drops of rain that fell right at that moment. Once his tyres were up to temperature, he was able to make up places and get himself into the position we had been hoping for before the race, consolidating fourth place and running at a strong pace.
“Sebastian also found himself in difficulty at the start, losing some positions and in the end he didn’t manage to get any higher than tenth.
“Now we must confirm the progress seen in recent races as we go into the last part of this championship. We are still a long way back in the Constructors’ Championship but it’s possible to make up ground: this must be our target and we must do everything to achieve it.”