Charles Leclerc finally won a race after seven winless ones, and despite every win being special, his victory at the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix felt amazing.
It has been a tough a trying period for the Charles Leclerc, as despite driving one of the two fastest cars on the 2022 Formula 1 grid, as he fell victim to reliability and Ferrari’s famous team errors for too many times.
But on Sunday in Spielberg, Leclerc was imperious around the Red Bull Ring, as Max Verstappen had no answer for his blistering pace.
“Every win is special, but this one feels just amazing,” Leclerc reflected on his race. “The last 15 laps were on the limit with the issue we had, but we brought it home.
“Today, we had a really strong pace and some great battles. I worked hard last night to find where I could still improve and it made the difference today. I’m very happy!” he added.
However it was not smooth sailing for the Monegasque who, just after Carlos Sainz’s F1-75 went up in flames – started experiencing issue with his throttle while leading the race, but he worked around it and kept it together to take the chequered flag ahead of a relentless Verstappen on the hunt.
“The end was incredibly difficult,” Leclerc admitted. “I had this issue with the throttle. It would get stuck at 20 or 30 per cent throttle in the low speeds, so it was very tricky. We managed to make it stick until the end and I am so happy.
“Weirdly [the throttle issue] was more or less the same time [as Sainz’s retirement], so I had it in my mind,” the Ferrari driver added. “I knew it was not a problem with the engine because it was the pedal that was feeling weird.
“Luckily it went until the end of the race,” the five-time race winner said, relieved after as he now sits second in the Drivers’ Championship, 38 points behind leader Verstappen.
A close escape for Carlos Sainz
Carlos Sainz, who was on his way to a second place in Austria, but retired with a power unit break down, and was lucky to escape from his blazing Ferrari.
“It’s difficult to find the right words today, as it was clear that a one-two was pretty straightforward,” he said in Ferrari’s press release. “I had strong pace today, especially on the hard tyre.
“Degradation was very high but we managed it well,” he added. “On the last stint the car felt really good on track until we obviously had the issue and we had to retire.
“Today’s result is a hard one to take as it cost the team and myself an important number of points for both championships.
“On the positive side, I’m feeling better and better in the car, more comfortable every race, and this keeps me motivated.
“We are fast, and this is what’s matters the most. Congrats to Charles for the win! We’ll keep pushing!” the Spaniard concluded.