The majority of drivers went deep into the race before stopping for fresh sets of tyres, but Leclerc held the lead on track and wanted to make the most of his advantage.
With the lap times of his rivals not improving to start with, the Monegasque was heard on team radio asking if he could make it to the end of the race on his used set of intermediates.
However, he then got reeled in swiftly by Valtteri Bottas after a phase of graining on the new rubber, which left Leclerc helpless and forcing him to drop down into P4.
While the Ferrari driver acknowledged he lost out on what would have been a likely podium because he stopped too late, he has no regrets about taking the path he did on Sunday.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) October 10, 2021
“It’s very strange,” the Ferrari driver told Sky Sports F1 after the race.
“I think it was the same a bit for everyone and that’s what confused us a little bit in our choice of when to pit, because I was on used tyres and I heard on the radio, they were telling me the lap times of Valtteri on the new set of inters and he was not very quick at the beginning.
“I was like, ‘okay, maybe we can stay in front with those used tyres’, but the thing is that, for seven laps, they struggled massively with graining and then, once they went through the graining, they found a lot of pace.
“Then once they found that pace, we knew basically that we had to stop, so we stopped – but it was too late.
“Then for the last 10 laps of the race, I was just trying to switch on those inters [but] that never really came to life.
“So it’s a bit of a shame because that made us lose the podium, but I don’t regret anything. In Russia, I think the communication was not great, but this time, the communication was very good.
“I had a clear picture of the race, and I think we did the right choice – or what we thought was the right choice – at the time. It didn’t pay off at the end but it’s like this, it was a bit of a strange race with those tyres.”