Charles Leclerc admitted he was “surprised” to finish P6 in the Russian Grand Prix – another race where he got the maximum out of his Ferrari.
On several occasions this season, Leclerc has extracted 100% from a car which at times has looked like one of the backmarkers – for instance when he finished on the podium in both the Austrian and 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
“It was a pretty good race for us,” said Leclerc. “I was definitely surprised. On Friday I didn’t drive well, I did quite a bad job in the car, especially in the race simulation with tyres and pace. I degraded a lot of the tyres and the pace was just not there, so I didn’t expect to do such a jump today.
“Today the pace was a bit better but most of all I think I improved massively on my tyre management, which was a good thing to see.
“I had a pretty bad start, lost quite a lot of positions on the run to Turn 1 but then took them back and from then on the performance was very good, so happy with today. P6 was definitely the best we could do.”
Leclerc added that days like this serve as a morale-boost considering that most races of late – such as those at Spa, Monza and Mugello – have been disastrous for Ferrari, competing against teams that buy customer engines from them or even failing to finish at all.
“We are coming back from very difficult weekends and mentally it is very difficult,” said the 22-year-old.
“When you do a good start like at Mugello and then get overtaken lap after lap, it’s very difficult to take. So to finally have a race where you can see positive signs of the car, and also myself because I think I drove well today, I’m happy.
“It was one of those days when we took the opportunity we had, so we are extremely happy about that and now we need to do the same until the end of the season.
“We brought some small upgrades for this weekend, but there will be a bigger one for the next race in Germany so it’s looking positive.”