P4 at the Portuguese Grand Prix left Charles Leclerc “extremely happy” as Ferrari finally seem to be on top of their Sunday struggles.
At the previous round, that being the Eifel Grand Prix, Leclerc delivered a solid qualifying display around the Nurburgring to line up P4 for the race, though the usual lack of race pace left him dropping down the order before finishing in P7.
It was though, a solid sign that Ferrari’s upgrades were working, and when the Monegasque driver put his SF1000 P4 on the grid again for the Portuguese Grand Prix it was time to see how the latest modifications focused around the diffuser would effect the team’s performance on Sunday’s.
And it’s safe to say that box has been well and truly ticked as Leclerc converted that starting position into a P4 finish, his strongest showing since the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix back in August.
“I’m extremely happy,” he told reporters at the Algarve International Circuit after the race.
“Not because we didn’t get lapped but mostly because our race pace in general has been very positive today. We’ve been struggling quite a lot at the start, which cost us quite a lot of overall time for the race, but in the end, we caught back quite a lot and so overall I’m quite happy with our performance today.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) October 25, 2020
Leclerc was one of several drivers to struggle in a major way at the start as his medium tyres took an age to get up to temperature, but his patience was rewarded as the race progressed.
“It was a very difficult one, because the first half of the race, I had to be very, very patient,” he explained.
“I was getting overtaken a bit everywhere, and then lap after lap I could feel it was coming and then it paid off at the end. But I felt quite good in the car. It was tricky, I had a lot of moments where I thought I would crash, but in the end I kept it on track, and fourth place is a great place to [be].”
With that result Leclerc finds himself P5 in the Drivers’ Championship, now only five points behind Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who crossed the line in P9.
Those twelve points for Leclerc, alongside a point from Sebastian Vettel kept Ferrari in the fight for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship.
The Scuderia currently sit P6, but the gap to Racing Point in P3 is only 40 points.