Charles Leclerc felt fifth and sixth place for Scuderia Ferrari in Sunday’s Mexico City Grand Prix was a solid result for the team, even if the pace of Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Pierre Gasly was a surprise ahead of them.
Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. both took turns as the lead Ferrari driver to try and close down the gap to Gasly ahead of them, but ultimately the AlphaTauri driver was easily able to stay well clear of them both.
Sainz gave back fifth on the penultimate lap to Leclerc, with the Monegasque racer delighted with the team spirit shown at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as they regained third place in the Constructors’ Championship from the McLaren F1 Team.
“Fifth and sixth is a solid result to take home from this weekend, as the race turned out a bit different to how we had expected,” said Leclerc. “My first stint on the Mediums was strong and my pace was very competitive.
“We stopped relatively early for Hards to try and put pressure on Gasly ahead of us, while Carlos went long to create a tyre delta and try to challenge him towards the end of the race. We swapped positions but unfortunately, neither of us managed to catch him. His pace was quite a surprise today.
“On my side, I struggled on the Hard tyres on my second stint. However, as a whole, I think that today was a good day and an example of our team spirit.”
“It was one of my best races this season in terms of pace” – Carlos Sainz Jr.
Team-mate Sainz reckoned the Mexico City Grand Prix weekend was one of his strongest of the year, although he was lucky to escape damage after being forced to take avoiding action around the spinning Valtteri Bottas at turn one.
Sainz dropped behind Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s Antonio Giovinazzi due to the delay behind both Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo, but he was able to pass the Italian on the restart and run sixth.
After Leclerc allowed him through to attempt to catch Gasly, Sainz gave the place back towards the end as it was clear the Frenchman had got too far ahead of both Ferrari drivers, but the Spaniard was pleased with how his weekend unfolded in Mexico.
“It was one of my best races this season in terms of pace, as I was very fast for the entire weekend and also in the race on both Medium and Hard tyres,” said Sainz. “Starting on the dirty side was, as expected, very difficult and then I was unlucky with the accident in front of me, as I had to slam on the brakes to avoid Bottas and then Ricciardo with a broken front wing, losing some positions.
“I was able to immediately retake the position from Giovinazzi at the restart and then my pace was always solid. We did very good pit stops with both cars and in the final part of the race I had more pace than Charles, so I believe it was the right call to swap positions and not take unnecessary risks.
“If we had raced each other the opportunity to catch Gasly would have been even more difficult. At the end of the race we swapped positions again as part of the team strategy.
“Today we brought home a good amount of points compared to our closest rivals and we are now ahead of them. That, together with my strong pace all weekend, are the important positives to take from Mexico. On to Brazil!”