Charles Leclerc says Haas helped him secure his lucky podium finish by creating a gap to McLaren for him early in the British Grand Prix, before late drama promoted him to third.
Ferrari has been struggling so far this season but showed good qualifying performance at Silverstone as Leclerc was able to secure fourth on the grid. He held position for the first part of the race, and says he benefited from Romain Grosjean’s strategic gamble that had the Haas running fifth for a spell, keeping the McLarens at bay.
“I think we were pretty lucky in having the Haas in between McLaren and myself,” Leclerc said. “If without that I would have been able to keep them behind or not, I don’t know, but it would have definitely been a lot more difficult.
“We were actually quite worried for the race. It wasn’t easy today, especially during the safety car periods and then for the restarts after the safety car, I was struggling massively, as I couldn’t put any temperature into the tires; the guys behind were actually pretty close.
“Romain was on used mediums and was putting me under a lot of pressure — that was the trickiest part of the race. But once the tires were in temperature it wasn’t actually that tricky. I was expecting worse, so we’ve done quite a good job, I think, with the balance of the car. It was very nice to drive today.”
Leclerc was on the podium at Silverstone in 2019 but says Ferrari’s difficult start to the season makes this year’s result all the sweeter.
“It’s definitely a lot more unexpected for this year, that’s for sure. We know we’ve been lucky to get to the podium but, apart from that, we’ve been satisfied with the way we’ve been working throughout the weekend.
“For sure we don’t want to be fighting for fourth place for so long, but, at the moment, that’s what the car is capable of. I think we extracted absolutely everything out of the strategy and the car. It’s a very unexpected podium, so I’m more satisfied than last year with third place.
“I’m very happy with it, especially with the tire management. It was not easy — we had a very aggressive downforce level coming here, so we had quite a lot of speed down the straights but it was very difficult in the corners. We were quite worried for the race, especially for the tire degradation, but we did quite a good job on that.”