Charles Leclerc has explained why Ferrari were more competitive than expected at the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Prior to the race being red-flagged due to Valtteri Bottas and George Russell having a high-speed shunt at Tamburello, Leclerc was in a great position to finish in P3 and score Ferrari’s first podium since the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.
However, the red flag bunched the field up and saw Leclerc fall down to P4 as the track dried and all cars had switched to dry-weather tyres.
Speaking after the race, Leclerc said he was a “little bit frustrated” to miss out on a podium and explained that Ferrari were very competitive early in the race as they had decided to run more downforce in anticipation of it raining on Sunday.
“I’m happy with the race, but at the same time a little bit frustrated,” Leclerc said.
“The first part of the race, we were very competitive and everything looked good. We took a bit of a gamble yesterday with the downforce to be a bit better if it was raining and it was the case.
“Unfortunately then with the red flag, all the cars were reshuffled and it repacked everyone, and then we started to be a bit vulnerable on the straights and we struggled to defend from the cars,” he added.
Leclerc also commented on his decision not to overtake race leader Max Verstappen when he made a mistake just before the grand prix was restarted.
“I considered it at one point but at the same time I backed off,” Leclerc said when asked why he didn’t overtake Verstappen.
“I think, looking back at it, it was the right choice because I think he always had one wheel on the track so I backed off because he didn’t completely spin.
“I thought about it but it was too late and he was already back in front,” he added.
McLaren driver Lando Norris, who was just behind Leclerc, said he believes Leclerc should have overtaken Verstappen.
“I had a great view of it,” Norris said following the race, which he finished in P3 to score his second-ever F1 podium.
“Quite funny actually. I think Charles could have gone past him in my opinion. At that stage Max was out of control and going left and Charles kind-of just hit the brakes and slowed down and stopped.
“At some point he has to go past Max because he was facing the barrier for a lot of the corner. I don’t know.
“We have to maybe ask the guys in charge what the exact ruling is for going off, as off-track, all four wheels off the track and example of yesterday – but at the same time Max was going very slow, so it was like Leclerc… Charles could have driven past him at the point. I’m not sure.
“I think if I was in P2, I would have gone for it, because you have a chance at winning then. It’s a risk worth it,” he added.