On paper, Charles Leclerc did an excellent job of rescuing his Canadian Grand Prix weekend, moving his Ferrari F1-75 from 19th on the grid to P5. But the Monegasque felt more could have been possible as he described his Sunday in Montreal as ‘super frustrating’.
After his retirement in Baku, Ferrari opted to fit Leclerc with a series of new power unit elements, downgrading him to a rear start alongside the also penalized Yuki Tsunoda.
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But although Ferrari clipped Leclerc’s wing to facilitate straight-line speed and overtaking, his movement through the order was not as quick as he would have liked, with the Monegasque driver stuck in a DRS train at one point, before passing turns 21-40. trying and failing to pass Esteban Ocon’s Alpine.
A slow pit stop, which dropped him behind a group of midfielders he had already passed once, added to Leclerc’s frustrations – although his brisk pace in the final stint at least allowed him to climb to P5, to claim 10 points.
“It was a super frustrating race,” said Leclerc. “The last part was fun but obviously the very first part I was stuck on a DRS train and couldn’t do anything. Then in the middle of the race I got stuck behind Esteban, who had much newer tires, so coming out of turn 10, when the tires really make a difference, he had very good traction and that was enough for him to keep me behind all the time.
As Leclerc’s other title protagonist, Max Verstappen, took his fifth victory in six races, a silver lining for the Ferrari driver was that Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull failed to finish, allowing Leclerc to get closer to within three points of the P2 of the Mexican in the classification.
But Leclerc was also buoyed by the strong pace of teammate Carlos Sainz, who finished the race less than a second behind Verstappen.
When asked if he thought he could have beaten Verstappen without his engine penalty, Leclerc replied: “I don’t know, I have no idea because I haven’t seen Red Bull at all. during the race they were just too far ahead. But the feeling was good and whenever the feeling is good, it’s a good sign.
READ MORE: Sainz proud to be ‘the fastest on track for the first time this year’ even though he missed out on his first win in Canada
“Was it enough or not to beat Red Bull, I don’t know. I think it’s been tight all season and it would have been tight today. I don’t know, but I had the impression that Carlos was strong today, so it shows that it would have been close, as it was with Carlos.
2022 Canadian Grand Prix: Leclerc overtakes Bottas at the final chicane to take 7th place
Leclerc added, meanwhile, that he had been impressed with Mercedes’ pace, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finishing ahead of the Monegasque in P3 and P4 – Leclerc predicting that if they can continue their current trend they will be in soon the hunt for victories.
READ MORE: Hamilton says there’s ‘more to come’ after claiming first podium since Bahrain in Canada
“I don’t have the full picture of the race today, but they looked solid,” he said. “They looked a lot stronger than before, and if they are consistently at that level then they can join in this battle for the wins.”