Around a year back, when he was at the very track competing for the first time in the Scarlet Red Scuderia, Monegasque Charles Leclerc battled on Saturday and emerged third fastest at the end of the quali battle.
Upon the completion of the race, Leclerc would finish with a strong third, which was, given Ferrari’s struggles of 2019, not exactly a woeful result. During much of the race, even as the main part of the battle was right up at the front with the two Mercedes drivers pushing each other hard, further down in the mid-field, it was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who was pushing Charles Leclerc as best as he possibly could.
But the Ferrari youngster didn’t relent and absorbed all the pressure to collect a fighting podium finish.
That’s exactly the kind of battle one would expect from the noted driver, considered among the most polished and skilled young minds on the grid.
To his advantage, despite Ferrari’s SF 1000 machine significantly low on downforce and horsepower, just the kind of advantages you need to ace Silverstone, among the fastest tracks on the calendar, Charles Leclerc didn’t do that terribly during Friday’s Free Practice.
As F1 hit one of the famous tracks on the roster, after a two week break, the last race being Hungarian Grand Prix, it was expected that the two Ferraris would desperately struggle.
So while his teammate Sebastian Vettel’s crew was busy attending to the German’s car troubles, Vettel sitting out of P1 and P2, Leclerc was on the charge.
In the end, the kind of time he set whilst competing with several other cars in greater shape and better rhythm, would inspire the Scuderia outlet to sport a smile at least. It’s not the worst position in the world to be in, is it if you finish fourth?
Upon the completion of the last practice session, the 22-year-old finished only three-tenths behind table-topper Lance Stroll; Leclerc’s eventual deficit to the flying Canadian (in that Racing Point RP20) being +0.296.
Moreover, immediately above Leclerc was Finnish Valtteri Bottas, who trailed Alexander Albon (P2) and Stroll (P1), in that order. But on the grimmer side, Vettel, finally out on the track but only in the final stages, in the post red-flagged session (due to Albon’s crash at Stowe), could gather only the eighteenth-fastest time.
On his end, though, Leclerc was measured and focused and had some observations on the car, that still lacks the bustling pace one might expect of arguably the second most powerful team, after Mercedes. And he had the following insights to share:
The reality is that our car is not competitive,”
“You saw it on the track and you will see it again. Today we are laying the foundations for being competitive and returning to winning when the rules change in 2022. I am convinced of this.”
It was not the news that the tifosi or even the Ferrari drivers wanted to hear.”
But it must be said, behind every competitive car and fast time-sheets is the combined excellence of the entire pit crew. To that end, here’s what Leclerc had in store as he appreciated the might of those who are trying to still arm the two Ferrari drivers with as best a car as possible:
“We know how hard everyone is working in the paddock and also the other teams, so once we are a bit down on performance, to recover this performance takes time.
“Everyone is working, nobody is on holidays in the paddock. So it’s going to take time and we need to be honest.”
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That being said, it’s about focusing hard and taking each lap at a time. All down to how it finally pans out for the two Ferraris on Saturday.