Charles Leclerc believes a mistake he made in the French Grand Prix prevented him from scoring at least one more point at Paul Ricard.
The Sauber rookie was chasing Kevin Magnussen (pictured above) in the first half of the race when he ran wide exiting Turn 2 and lost a position to Nico Hulkenberg. While able to show similar pace to the Haas and Renault — something that was unexpected given the long run pace in practice — Leclerc was then unable to recover those positions and finished 10th.
“At the end we had to expect it a little bit,” Leclerc said of dropping from eighth place on the grid. “As I said [after qualifying], the Haas were very strong, Renault were very strong also. In the end I think we have been more surprised than anything, we were following them and we were actually putting pressure on them, which we definitely did not expect.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with myself as I think overall we did a great race, myself and the team, but I did make a mistake following Kevin. I wanted to put pressure on him, I came back in the DRS zone and lost the car in Turn 2 being too close to him and then Nico Hulkenberg overtook us, so we lost quite a bit of time there and lost one place.
“It’s a bit of a shame but we’ve had a smooth run in the last four or five races without many mistakes, so sometimes it happens and I will try to learn from it to get better.”
With the DRS facilitating overtaking at Paul Ricard, Leclerc says he was actually helped by the ability to pass cars after his mistake compromised his strategy.
“That was good actually for us as we were quick this time. [On Saturday] if you would have told me that overtaking would have been easy it wouldn’t have been good, as we thought that our pace would be struggling, but in the end we were good. In the end it was OK as after my pit stop I was in the traffic, so we were lucky that we could overtake
“Before the mistake behind Kevin we were actually in a good place but after this mistake we had to stop at one point. So we just said, ‘OK now we are stopping’ and we knew it was not the best place but more a consequence of the [error].
“In the end I don’t think we could have done a lot better than ninth — probably one point more was the potential.”