A race to remember for Charles Leclerc on the Red Bull ring of the Styrian GP. After an initial contact with Pierre Gasly, which caused the Ferrari driver's front wing to break, the Monegasque found himself last in 18th position, after the retirements of the Frenchman's AlphaTauri and Latifi's Williams, involved in the same accident.
After replacing the front wing and mounting medium tyres, his race substantially overturned, with a pace and strategy that brought him back to 7th place, after a long series of overtaking.
Calling Lecerc at the pits immediately after the contact, without waiting, proved to be a wise choice, which allowed him to buy time in free-ish air, doing tyre management, and then go on a softer compound to have more pace than the cars ahead of him.
"If we look at the first lap it’s been an incredible race for us and we’ve been incredibly quick, but obviously there’s this first lap…" Charles Leclerc commented after the race.
"It basically stopped us [and forced us to do] something much, much, much better today. It was a big opportunity, the pace was incredible, this race is probably one of my best performances in Formula 1 today – apart from the Lap 1 [incident], but it’s life," he said.
"To be honest I need to rewatch the images from outside," - he admitted when he was asked to give his opinion about the incident that involved Pierre Gasly's AT02 - "I have no idea whether Pierre went a little bit to the left or I went a little bit to the right at the same time. I guess it’s a bit of both, and at the end we touched."
Today it's already race day, again in Austria, on the same track. Ferrari's pace looked promising yesterday during the race on the Red Bull Ring, so it's going to be again a tight Sunday in view of the fight between McLaren and Ferrari for the third place in the Constructors' Championship.
"I’m really looking forward to next weekend. Obviously today again it was really, really special… it’s been a great great race pace today which was a very good surprise so yes, this is good," he concluded.
The Monegasque expressed his first feelings, after the race, from the seat of his SF21, in the interview dedicated to driver of the day, that he won ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton with 28% of the votes:
"[...]I have a bit of a [mixed] feeling honestly. On one hand this is probably one of my best performances in F1, but on the other hand I would have liked to fight [for a better position] than 7th, but unfortunately that couldn't happen. 7th place in the first lap, and there we finished."
So bittersweet. One of my best performances with heaps of overtakes but should have been higher without the contact with Pierre. A shame about what happened but we've spoken and everything is ok. Our speed looks good for next weekend and thanks for your Driver of the Day votes 👊 pic.twitter.com/OZ2kJTw3c3— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) June 27, 2021