Leclerc’s momentum: Sauber notches up first back-to-back F1 points since 2015
After a tentative first couple of races, Charles Leclerc’s form in the last two races has caught the eye of many observers in F1 and justified the hype which accompanied the runaway 2017 F2 champion into his F1 debut.
He has the rare honour of regarding the Monaco GP as his home race and it will be interesting to see how he performs on a track where the driver has greater influence on the results than the car compared to most F1 venues.
The Monagasque drove another impressive race in Spain to finish in tenth place and take home another point for Sauber, despite the team expecting to struggle in Barcelona, which rewards high downforce and efficient aerodynamics.
Leclerc’s impressive race was made possible by a very strong start; even before the collision at turn three, he was already up to tenth place after passing Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso.
A slower start might’ve resulted in Leclerc being involved in the lap one melee, but the spin for Grosjean promoted the Sauber driver up into ninth place.
From there, Leclerc was able to resist the threat from Alonso and display good enough race pace to remain in a the points after the pit stops were carried out. Kimi Raikkonen’s race retirement allowed Leclerc to move up to eighth.
However, his battle with Fernando Alonso resumed and the McLaren driver was able to take advantage of the virtual safety car restart to pass the Sauber into turn one.
He then fell behind the Force India of Sergio Perez, who had pitted under the virtual safety car in order to fit the faster soft tyres, by being passed once again into turn one.
Despite the setbacks, he was able to hold on for a point and claim Sauber’s first back-to-back points finishes since Felipe Nasr some two-and-a-half years ago (2015 Russian Grand Prix – 2015 US Grand Prix).
“It is a great feeling to finish in the points again. It was quite an interesting race, with tricky weather conditions making it challenging to drive, especially in terms of tyre management,” said Leclerc.
He added that better results might’ve been achievable had he not take too much life out of his tyres at the start of his stints.
“I’ve probably been a little bit too greedy at the beginning of the mediums and softs, trying to catch up on Carlos [Sainz] in the Renault but I destroyed the front tyres and the end of the race was basically very, very difficult for us.
“It was all about surviving, and also I had Fernando [Alonso] in my mirrors which is not always easy because you know that at the first error, he will overtake you. It was a nice experience and I guess it’s great for me – starting in Formula One – to have these types of situations because I learned twice as much.”
Whilst there were mechanical/pit stop setbacks for Kimi Raikkonen and midfield rivals Esteban Ocon and Stoffel Vandoorne, the result remains an impressive one.
The difficulty in overtaking at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya would’ve aided Leclerc’s cause, but his opening lap efforts – and subsequent race pace – gave him the freedom to capitalise on his heightened track position.
via James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1 https://www.jamesallenonf1.com
May 18, 2018 at 02:15PM