Charles Leclerc felt seventh was the best he could achieve in Sunday’s Eifel Grand Prix, but the Monegasque racer will be disappointed to fall down the order from his lofty fourth place on the grid.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver held onto his position at the start but quickly became the cork in the bottle as a number of drivers followed in his slipstream attempting to make the pass. Daniel Ricciardo was the first of those behind him, and it was not long before the Renault DP World F1 Team driver found a way passed Leclerc.
Leclerc blamed the soft tyres for his relative lack of pace in the first stint, but he felt his pace was better on the harder compounds, and he was able to finish seventh after gambling on staying out on used tyres during the safety car period.
“Seventh is the best we could do today,” said Leclerc. “On the soft tyres at the beginning we struggled massively, which compromised our race. We had a lot of graining, so we were very slow and lost several positions. So we went for a two-stop strategy, which I believe was the right thing to do.
“On the medium tyre it went quite well, and we did some good overtaking which is always fun. It was very tricky after the safety car period towards the end of the race, because I had to do the re-start on old tyres and it was very cold, but I think we managed pretty well.
“I am happy with the overall improvement we have seen in recent weeks. We are not yet where we want to be, but every small step is going in the right direction and this is what we need.”
“I was struggling too much with the tyres” – Sebastian Vettel
The last time team-mate Sebastian Vettel raced at the Nürburgring, he was racing to victory for Red Bull Racing, but the German this time was unable to breach the points, finishing outside the top ten in eleventh.
Vettel gambled on starting on the medium compound of Pirelli tyre, but this went to waste as he spun heading into turn one. This forced him into the pits for an earlier-than-planned pit stop, and ultimately left him embroiled in the midfield battle for the minor points.
Unfortunately, the Ferrari-powered Romain Grosjean and Antonio Giovinazzi were both able to finish ahead of him inside the points, leaving the German scratching his head in what was ultimately a ‘very difficult’ Eifel Grand Prix for him.
“I would have liked to bring home some points, but generally, I was struggling too much with the tyres,” said Vettel. “I think the start wasn’t bad. I was on the Medium compound and only lost one place to Giovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo.
“However, once my tyres were in the right temperature window I was stuck behind him and I was struggling a lot to pass him. I probably took too much of a risk and damaged my tyres. I was obliged to pit and after that it was very difficult to fight back.
“With the Safety Car at the end we thought there was a chance for points, we fought with [Kevin] Magnussen and I also tried to pass Giovinazzi. In the end we just weren’t able to pick up the last point. It was a very difficult day.”