Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Charles Leclerc pleased with third place finish ahead of Summer break: “It’s good to finish this first half with a podium”

Belgian Grand Prix Pole-sitter Charles Leclerc said that he expected to finish behind the Red Bull Racing cars at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, considering their dominant package. With this, Leclerc felt that his third place result was realistically the best outcome for his race. 

“Third was the best result we could have achieved today. We knew that the Red Bulls would be quicker than us, so our target was to maximise points with the package we have, and we did that.”

Rather than focusing on the Red Bulls, Leclerc said that Scuderia Ferrari had their eye on third-place starter Lewis Hamilton when it came to tyre strategy. As it happened, Red Bull also had to respond by replicating their two-stop plan.

“We had to base our strategy on Lewis’ (Hamilton). He had a good pace and we had to make sure we kept him behind us. The Red Bulls in front then had to react to our moves, so we were all on the same strategy.

“In terms of tyre management, we didn’t have too much degradation and we have been doing a good job in that area for the past few races.”

Having achieved his third podium since the start of 2023, Leclerc thanked the team for pushing ahead with upgrades as quickly as they have and hopes that they will be able to build upon the momentum once the team returns from Summer break. 

“The team has done an amazing job to bring updates ahead of schedule and let us take steps forward faster than we thought we would. It’s good to finish this first half with a podium and hopefully we can maximise our package at the upcoming races after the break too.”

“Not the way I wanted to finish the first part of the season.” – Carlos Sainz

A first-lap racing incident with Oscar Piastri led Carlos Sainz to end up retiring from the race due to damage to his SF-23. In reflecting on the situation that took place at La Source, Sainz said that, although it was a no-fault incident, Piastri was “way too optimistic” by attempting to run side-by-side with him on the inside line. 

After the incident, Piastri wound up stopped on the side of the track a lap later.  Sainz was able to continue, but after slowly sliding down the order, the decision was made to retire the damaged car on lap twenty-three.  

“Not the way I wanted to finish the first part of the season. Hamilton stayed behind Perez and I attacked him on the inside. Then came the contact with Oscar and that was it, a racing incident, but in my opinion Oscar was way too optimistic as he was never side by side with me and making that move from behind has never really worked here in Spa. I’m disappointed, but it’s also part of racing.”

In spite of the disappointing result, Sainz said that he was pleased with the pace the car showed in Spa and congratulated his team-mate for capturing a podium for the team. 

“On a positive note, it looked like the pace was good today so congrats to the team and Charles on an encouraging result. We need to keep pushing hard to make sure we come back strong after the break and have a good second half of the season.”

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari