Leclerc unaware of Alonso’s Barcelona heroics

Jon Wilde
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Charles Leclerc did not know he was following a Fernando Alonso precedent with his superb overtake on Valtteri Bottas at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Starting fourth on the grid at Barcelona, the Ferrari driver got past the Mercedes around the outside at Turn 3 to move up into third position.

It was similar to a pass Alonso executed in 2013 on Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton while also racing for the Scuderia and which helped him gain the latest of his 32 F1 wins.

But although it was only eight years ago, Leclerc had no recollection of it and therefore could not use Alonso’s manoeuvre at Turn 3 as an inspiration.

“Everybody is telling me that but really, I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Leclerc told Sky. “I’ve never seen that overtaking.

“Did he do it at the beginning too? Because to be honest I think it is much more difficult during the race with all the rubber chips [marbles] on the outside. So I opted for the easy solution on the first lap.”

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Charles Leclerc Ferrari
Charles Leclerc compares Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel relationships.

Leclerc was never likely to have the pace to stay ahead of Bottas for the remainder of the race in Barcelona and went on to finish a highly creditable fourth.

As for the pass itself, the 23-year-old from Monaco said: “It wasn’t planned. I just saw the opportunity the moment I was in the car and I just jumped at it. It seemed like it would work out.

“I was trying to find a different line than Valtteri because he was following Lewis [Hamilton]. And when you’re obviously behind another car, you lose so much downforce that I was just trying to separate myself.

“Then as soon as I saw I had a lot of grip on the outside, I just went for overtaking and it came out pretty good.”

Bottas admitted he had been caught unawares by Leclerc, saying: “To be honest, I didn’t see Charles at Turn 3. Once I saw him on the outside, he was going a lot faster than me so it was too late.

“At Turns 1 and 2 there’s only one line and you can’t do much. I knew I could hold my position there.

“But then at Turn 3, I was trying to follow Lewis closely on the inside and I didn’t see any chance that Charles was so close. He managed to get good grip and a line on the outside.”

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