Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Sauber’s Charles Leclerc finished P7 in the last race of the year, but says he thinks he might have been able to finish even higher.
Charles Leclerc, along with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, was one of the drivers to dive into the pits under the Virtual Safety Car on Lap 8. Having spent the opening few laps dicing over P5 with Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and hanging onto the Mercedes/Ferrari/RBR train, Leclerc’s stop cost him a lot in terms of track position and time as he then got held up by drivers who were yet to stop.
However, he was able to make the one stop strategy work and get to the end of the race on his SuperSofts, claiming P7. This was behind the Haas of Romain Grosjean, a car that Leclerc thought he might have been able to finish ahead of had they not dived in for the tyre switch quite so early.
“I think that there was more in the race for us today, but we rounded off the season with a decent P7 and some more points.” he said afterwards. It’s quite likely that, had he not retired on Lap 28 with a mechanical failure, teammate Marcus Ericsson would have been his main opponent for that eventual P7 finish as the Swede had started on the SuperSoft tyre with the aim of playing the long game and was ahead of Leclerc at the time of his failure.
With Leclerc now swapping to Ferrari to take over Kimi Raikkonen’s seat, the popular Monegasque driver thanked Sauber for giving him the opportunity to showcase his talents over his first year in F1:
“I would like to thank the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for this incredible year and everything they have taught me. It has been great to work together and to see all of the effort reflected in the progress we have made. We can all be proud to have been part of it, and I wish them all the best for the future.”
Team boss Frederic Vasseur paid tribute to his two drivers as they both depart for pastures new after this season: “It is a great feeling to finish the championship in P8, especially if you look back at where we were last year and for the first two events. The improvements made have been huge, and this is thanks to the work done by the team at the track and in the factory. Our targets have risen, and the motivation for next year is high across all departments. A huge credit for our evolution goes to the drivers, who did a great job together and pushed each other to improve session after session and race after race. We thank Marcus and Charles for their great contribution and wish them both all the best for the future.”