Leclerc: I think it was great team management

Leclerc: I think it was great team management

Charles Leclerc was the perfect number two driver, playing the team game in a dramatic 2023 Singapore Grand Prix that saw Carlos Sainz take Ferrari’s first win of the season.

For the second Formula 1 weekend in a row, Leclerc had no answer to Sainz’s pace, as the latter and Ferrari ended Red Bull’s chances of going unbeaten throughout the entire 2023 season, as the ever dominant Milton Keynes side struggled to find any real form of pace, Max Verstappen included.

The closing laps of the race saw a dramatic battle for first to fourth place, with Leclerc falling victim to Mercedes George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

A last minute crash for George Russell saw Lewis Hamilton move into the podium spot, with Leclerc in fourth, who was struggling to keep Verstappen behind, the latter lapping a whopping four seconds faster than the Ferrari man at that stage.

Ferrari did the smart thing and tried to cover Sainz’s lead using Leclerc in the process, and the #16 Red Car played the team game in the best way possible.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the thrilling race, Leclerc said: “I knew this race was going to be difficult for me.

It was about protecting Sainz

“In the first stint it was all about trying to protect Carlos in order for me to stop before him. We had a safety car, so had to do a double stack. I had traffic to go out, so I lost three positions.

“That put us quite a bit on the backfoot,” the Monegasque lamented. “I struggled on the restart with tyres and after that I knew it was going to be a difficult race from that moment onwards.

“I think it was a great team management, especially in that first stint, then it was up to me to do a better job yesterday in order to be in a different position,” he admitted.

Ferrari might have missed a trick, not pitting Leclerc under the Virtual Safety Car, which could’ve given him a fighting chance against the Mercedes duo who did just that.

When asked about Ferrari’s decision to stay out, and whether he wanted to pit, Leclerc replied: “Yes but I don’t think it would have changed much because Lewis and George had pitted as well, so I probably would have finished a bit behind them.

In the end, it was a very positive day for the Scuderia regardless, who clinched a win during a season when it seemed surely impossible, and having a Red Car in first position is sure to make the Maranello squad happy, and give a much needed boost of confidence going into the closing races of the season.

The Scuderia are now only 24 points behind Mercedes in the 2023 F1 Constructors’ Championship, in third.