A big loser in Sochi’s late rain shower, Charles Leclerc feels he “could have done a better job as a driver” in helping Ferrari make the right strategy call.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has already acknowledged that Ferrari got it wrong late on in the Russian Grand Prix, the team boss saying “fatigue” probably played a role.
Having started 19th on the grid after taking a fourth hybrid system for this season, Ferrari’s upgraded engine, Leclerc was running up in eighth place with 10 laps to go, lapping behind eventual P2 finisher Max Verstappen.
But while the Red Bull driver was one of the first to pit when light rain hit the circuit, Ferrari held off until it became heavier, and then stopped Carlos Sainz first as he was the driver higher up the order.
Instead of double stacking as some teams did, Leclerc was made to wait another lap. That, he says, was “too late”.
It hurts. Everything was looking pretty good until the last 3 laps. Congratulations to the team and to Carlos for another podium. pic.twitter.com/xBjktCV87D
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) September 26, 2021
“It started to rain quite a bit at one point, and we were very competitive in those condition,” said the Ferrari driver.
“The third sector was dry, so what we were losing in the first and second with a bit of rain we were gaining in the last one, so I decided to stay out.
“There was one lap where I doubted, but there was Carlos who was in front of me who was meant to stop that lap. I couldn’t stop at the same time.
“The lap after was already too late so, at that point, I knew my race was compromised, so I tried to stay on slicks hoping the rain decreased but it didn’t happen.
“I’m very disappointed with a race like this as the first part was looking extremely good. To finish 15th like this hurts.”
While Leclerc failed to score, Sainz raced his way to third place.
The result means Sainz is ahead of Leclerc in the Drivers’ standings by 112.5 points to 104.
Leclerc added: “I will analyse after this weekend to know what I could have done better… because I feel like I could have done a better job as a driver to help the team take the right decision and that’s it.
“Obviously before that, it was a very, very positive race on my side, so it disappoints me even more to finish it that way. But it’s the way it is now, and I will try to learn from it.”