British Grand Prix – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc says his on track battle with Max Verstappen at Silverstone was fueled by their previous duel in Austria.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished P3 to claim the final podium place in Sunday’s F1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The Monegasque driver benefited from an on track collision ahead of him between his teammate Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, moving ahead of the pair as they extricated themselves from the gravel.
Leclerc’s race had been one of mixed fortunes up to that point. Having started from P3 on the grid, Leclerc had become embroiled in a tremendous battle with Verstappen that saw the two swapping places and banging wheels constantly – never ending in tears.
At the first pitstops, it looked as though Leclerc had been beaten when Red Bull managed to get Verstappen out in front of the Ferrari after a jawdropping 1.90 seconds pitstop but Charles managed to get back alongside Max through Turn 4 and get ahead of him again.
Leclerc would stay ahead until the Safety Car intervention on Lap 19. Verstappen immediately pitted again, with Ferrari following suit a lap later – losing out on the position. With Verstappen now ahead and faster, he was able to pull clear and set about passing Pierre Gasly and set off after Vettel for their eventual collision.
With Gasly irritated after losing track position, he caught up on Gasly and overtook the Frenchman around the outside of Turn 3 to move up to P5. He then inherited P3 when Vettel and Verstappen collided, and brought his car home on the podium.
“It was a good day for me.” said an exuberant Leclerc afterwards. “This was by far the most fun race of my Formula 1 career to date. From inside the cockpit, the duel with Max was really enjoyable and I reckon those watching it at home or at the track also thought it was a good show.”
Having been beaten in a straight fight for the race victory with Verstappen in Austria, Leclerc said that played on his mind as he decided how aggressive to be on track at Silverstone: “In a way, I have to say that what happened in Austria allowed me to understand how aggressive I can be in the race and I didn’t hold back. I think that Austria was quite an eye-opener for me to understand how far we could go and what was accepted and I’m very happy at the end to race like this. I think every driver wants to race hard and that’s what we did during most of the race. It was very, very fun, always borderline, but I think always in the rules and very, very enjoyable from the car. It was also a good fight with Pierre: to overtake him I had to be daring because he was very quick down the straights.”
Explaining his battle with Verstappen, he was asked how hard it was to defend from what appeared to be a much quicker car on race day: “Very difficult. I think we have got some work to do on our race pace and try to keep these tyres as good as Mercedes and Red Bull are doing. I think we are a little bit… struggling on that. The best move was probably the one on Max on the outside in Copse? I think he just passed me and I passed him back around the outside of Copse. That was definitely one of the most exciting of the race. Of my race.”