The Monegasque driver came into the top tier of single-seaters having blown away the field in the Formula 2 Championship last year.
As a rookie, he has helped Sauber to a P8 finish in the Constructors’, just 14 points behind sixth placed McLaren in the standings.
“Very happy and just for the info, I am not crying, I just have sand in my eye,” Leclerc said after the race.
“It has been a great season.
“I am disappointed today because there was potential to be best of the rest.”
Sauber pitted their man under the Virtual Safety Car which was put into play inside the opening ten laps.
“I think we stopped a bit too early but in the end,” he admitted.
“The whole season they have done an amazing job and I will be forever grateful for everything they have taught me, for everything they have done.
“I don’t think there have been many mistakes from their side, from the beginning of the season.
“It has been a great season and yeah, a bit emotional to end this story here but I am really looking forward to the next step also.”