Charles Leclerc, who nearly won the British Grand Prix, has given his Ferrari team a grade for their first half of the season.
On three occasions this year, Leclerc has vastly exceeded expectations in the Ferrari. He captured pole position in the Monaco and Azerbaijan Grands Prix and then led for the vast majority of the race at Silverstone until passed by Lewis Hamilton near the end.
After those previous stand-out displays, the Monegasque driver played down his chances next time out with a ‘back to reality’ prediction. That was not the case in Baku, however, where he bagged a second consecutive pole.
But he insists it really will be business as usual in the next race at the Hungaroring, anticipating Ferrari will not be able to live with Mercedes and Red Bull and instead find themselves fighting with this season’s most familiar rivals, McLaren.
However, Leclerc thinks the Italian giants could not have done much better this season to improve from last year’s dismal campaign which they finished as the sixth best constructor.
Asked to grade his own and the team’s performances over the first 10 races of the season, Leclerc told Formula 1: “I don’t like to give grades to myself but for the team, I think close to an ‘A’.
“Obviously there have been a few setbacks but we have worked in the best way we could whenever we happened to be in those difficult situations.”
One last push before the break 🇭🇺 pic.twitter.com/kGhYmaOQme
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) July 28, 2021
The Hungarian Grand Prix circuit is not one Leclerc considers to be among his most productive.
“I feel like it can be a strong race for us. I don’t think we will be at the level of performance as we’ve seen in Monaco but I hope we can at least be on top of the midfield, which is the reality of where we are fighting this year,” the 23-year-old told reporters at his pre-race press conference.
“So this is the most important target for this weekend and I think we are quite confident we can achieve that if we do a good job. It’s not a particularly strong track for myself as a driver but I will try to make the best job possible.
“It’s a very difficult track, very technical, you need to be very, very smooth. I tend to have a bit more of an aggressive driving style, and it looks like I’m struggling a bit more here compared to my team-mates in the past, so I will work on that and try to maximise this weekend.”
In the 11 days since it happened, Leclerc has been trying to put the disappointment of missing out on British GP victory behind him, however unexpected it would have been.
“I don’t reflect on it too much. I just started to focus on here and that’s it – tried to forget what happened and obviously it was frustrating because the win was so close and to lose the win so close to the end helps,” he said.
“But on the other hand, there are plenty of positives – being on the pace of the Mercedes, especially in the first stint. The second stint went a bit more in line with what we expected, but all in all it was a very, very positive weekend for us.”