Charles Leclerc says he didn’t want to risk losing his second place in the Singapore Grand Prix by trying a difficult move in tricky conditions.
The Ferrari driver was on pole position but lost out at the start as Perez took the lead, and spent the rest of the race following the Mexican. After the final safety car restart, Leclerc was putting heavy pressure on Perez as he showed better pace on slick tires but didn’t manage to make a move, and then some small errors allowed a gap to open up that he never managed to close again.
“I was quite surprised because as soon as I lost the DRS I think it was exactly at the time when Checo’s tires started to work properly and unfortunately then I lost it a little bit,” Leclerc said. “Before that everything was really on the limit — with the dirty air in conditions like this the slightest mistake you pay big time.
“So I did a few mistakes. I was just trying to be as close as possible because I basically had to make the overtaking on the straight. I couldn’t really go on the braking zone and brake later because I didn’t really know how the track was on the inside and I didn’t want to take that risk.
“I had one lap where I was really close and I actually thought about going in the inside and braking later but for me, it was not worth it, so I was just waiting for the right opportunity. That unfortunately didn’t arrive at the end.”
Leclerc was told that Perez could potentially receive a penalty after the race — an outcome that proved true as the Red Bull driver was handed a five-second time penalty for safety car infringements — but said he allowed the gap to grow in the final few laps once he knew he couldn’t stay within the required distance.
“You push until the end. I knew that Checo was under investigation — my engineer had told me that — so I was pushing and then as soon as he told me, ‘OK, Checo is 5.1 seconds in front’ then it was just all about bringing the car to the end.
“The conditions were really, really tricky and mistakes can be very easy to do. So as soon as I knew that the five-second gap was done, I just brought the car home.”