Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr performed solidly at the completely bonkers Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, finishing seventh and eighth respectively at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
Leclerc came out as top Scuderia Ferrari at the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix but was actually very lucky to even make the finish. The Monegasque driver heavily tagged the rear-left of Sergio Pérez after the first red flag restart of the race, sending Pérez round and into the wall. Miraculously Leclerc’s car was okay, neither driver was at fault for the incident, there was simply not enough room for them all.
Other than that it was a strong display by Leclerc, who had it not been for the two red flags, would’ve been right amongst the top five after clearly having strong pace on track. Leclerc even had a couple brilliant scraps with his team-mate in completely fair and clean fashion, something which there wasn’t too much of in the race!
The seventh place moves Leclerc up to fifth in the standings with just one race to go. Leclerc leaves Saudi Arabia happy with how he performed but believes more was possible.
“We’re happy with the way we recovered after Friday’s crash, so it is a shame to only finish seventh, because we had the potential to do better. The first part of the race was really good and our pace was strong. When the Safety Car came out after the start, we thought some luck had come our way and we would benefit from stopping when we did. Three laps later came the red flag and it cost us three positions.
“We avoided taking too many risks at the restart, but then came the contact with Checo and we lost more positions. What compromised our race the most was the flatspot that I picked up at that point. This made it really tough to get the Hards to work after the next restart and it also caused some front locking. The pace came back towards the end, but today was one of the days when various factors prevented us getting a better result.“
“We cannot be too disappointed” – Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr put in an excellent attacking display after having started in fifteenth, the Spaniard overtook at every possible opportunity with some brilliant moves. Sainz was on a mission to make it into the points and managed to do just that.
His eighth place finish means he is only eight and a half points behind Leclerc in the championship, the honours of ending the year as top Ferrari is still very much up for grabs.
Sainz enjoyed the race but believes a better finish was possible had it not been for the disappointing qualifying.
“This was a fun race to drive and we cannot be too disappointed starting from fifteenth and finishing in eighth place. I had a good start and I was able to attack, immediately making up some places on the Hard tyre, which was working really well. Unfortunately the first Safety Car and red flag came out too early for my interests. We had no choice but to fit the Mediums, even though we knew we had to make them last 36 laps.
“We had a very strong pace at the beginning of the second stint, making it up to seventh and catching Gasly ahead, but towards the end my tyres were completely finished and in the final laps we couldn’t do anything to defend from Charles, who was on the Hard compound.
“It’s a shame about yesterday’s qualifying, as I’m convinced we could have finished higher up, but I’m happy to have been able to score points again. Now we look forward to Abu Dhabi to end the season on a high!“