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Leclerc Secures Historic Imola Podium for Ferrari

Leclerc: A ‘Special’ Podium at Imola Despite Hoping for More

20/05/2024

Charles Leclerc ended Ferrari’s podium drought at Imola, becoming the first since Schumacher in 2006, though he hoped for more.

This weekend at Imola, Charles Leclerc became the first Ferrari driver to finish on the podium at this circuit since Michael Schumacher’s victory in 2006. The Monegasque is happy to have offered this trophy to the tifosi, even though he would have obviously preferred an even better result.

“It’s always very special to step onto the podium at Imola. However, it’s clear that I’m never satisfied with a third place. We always want to be on the top step of the podium. But considering everything leading up to this, I think we lost most of what could have been in qualifying. That’s what we are going to analyze. But in the race, I think we were all very, very close. And it was about who pushed at the right moment in the race. And then the podium was very special, as it always is when we’re in Italy.”

The Scuderia brought significant upgrades to its F1 car this weekend, but the Monegasque driver wants to wait a few more races before judging their benefits.

“First of all, I think this is not the best circuit to judge the improvements, especially because the curbs are so important here that if you have a good car on the kerbs, it can somewhat mask what’s really going on. The good thing is that everything we expected from these upgrades, we got. In terms of data, they did exactly what they were supposed to do, which is always a good thing.”

“Then, looking back at Saturday, reanalyzing qualifying, I think we lost almost everything at the launch of the flying laps. For some reason, we had a slightly different power strategy compared to McLaren and Red Bull, and we lost everything on the run down to Turn 2. Max also had the slipstream. But that’s something we need to look at, because on a circuit like this, track position is absolutely crucial. And when you have just a tenth of a second between Red Bull, McLaren, and us, we have to do everything perfectly. And third place on the grid may have cost us a better race result.”

While he had closed in on Lando Norris and was putting pressure on him, Leclerc went off track and did not trouble the McLaren afterwards. However, the Ferrari driver explains that he did not have to take care of his car and tires following this mistake.

“No, to be honest, my pace was quite similar throughout the stint. It was more Lando who pulled ahead, and I couldn’t get back into his DRS. I was in a very delicate position relative to Lando, where you don’t get the DRS benefits but you lose in the corners. At the beginning of the stint with the hard tire, with our pace advantage, I could get back into the DRS. But as soon as I lost it, Lando started to push a bit more. And the combination of those two things set me back a bit. But I also had to try something a bit different. I knew that managing the tires and attacking Lando at the end wasn’t the right thing to do because the pace advantage wasn’t enough. So I tried to put him under a bit more pressure early on. But yes, it wasn’t enough.”

Leclerc is “convinced” that Ferrari will be competitive in Monaco

Imola also marked the debut of Brian Bozzi as the Monegasque’s race engineer, and Leclerc praised him.

“He did very well. I mean, it’s always very tricky when you change, especially mid-season, as was the case here. So he had to get used to a lot of new things. I also had Johannes, my performance engineer, who was new on track. So I had two people in my team who were new to their roles, and it was quite difficult at first, but actually, they did an amazing job, and everything went very well. Now, we will work on this and try to improve, but it’s a very good start.”

Charles Leclerc has never found success at his home race in Monaco, where Formula 1 heads this weekend, but he is confident ahead of this eighth round of the season.

“Monaco is very special to me. It’s true that it hasn’t been the most successful race for me so far. However, the pace has always been there, and that gives me confidence that it will be the case this year too. Monaco is so unique that we have to start a bit from scratch. And yes, the free practice sessions are very, very important to build up the pace gradually. But I’m convinced that we will be strong. And as I’ve said many times, these are the same roads I used to take the bus on to school when I was younger. Now, it’s in a Formula 1 car. So it’s very special to me. I’m really looking forward to it. I think Monaco is a very special circuit for all drivers because it’s a very challenging track, and it’s even more special for me because it’s my home race.”

Leclerc Secures Historic Imola Podium for Ferrari

Leclerc Secures Historic Imola Podium for Ferrari. Leclerc Secures Historic Imola Podium for Ferrari

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