Leclerc hoping for big boost at Spanish GP as Ferrari bring key upgrade package

Max Verstappen beat Charles Leclerc to victory at the Miami Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc has lamented the fact that he was unable to pass Max Verstappen at the end of the Miami Grand Prix, but will settle for second after a “fun” race in Florida.

The Monegasque led Carlos Sainz off the start in Ferrari’s front row lockout since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, while Saturday’s result was the first time both Ferraris had qualified on the front row on merit in 48 races after Leclerc’s stunning pole lap.

But Sainz was quickly dispatched by the reigning world champion on the opening lap, before Verstappen caught Leclerc a few laps later and passed him into Turn One.

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A mistake by the championship leader put him further in arrears of his title rival, and it looked as though Verstappen was on for a dominant win.

However, that changed when Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly came together on the exit of Turn Eight, and the subsequent Safety Car allowed Leclerc to climb back onto Verstappen’s tail heading into the closing stages.

The Red Bull driver kept his cool though and fended off the four-time race winner to claim 26 points, and Leclerc observes that the Ferrari performed much better at the end on Hards than it had at the start on Mediums as he came close to passing the Dutchman at the end.

“It was a very difficult race physically,” he said.

“We struggled quite a bit on the medium tyres especially in the first stint and got overtaken there and it made our race a bit difficult from that moment onwards.

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“On the Hard we were very competitive and towards the end I thought I could get Max at one point but today they had the advantage in terms of pace.

“But it was fun, it’s amazing to see so many people again. I kept saying it but it’s great to have so many Ferrari fans in the grandstands so thank you for the support.”

It was put to Leclerc that his title battle with Verstappen will be an enticing one this season, and he places emphasis on upgrades as the teams look to develop efficiently under the new technical regulations.

“I hope so too,” he replied.

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“We need to keep pushing. Upgrades will be very important throughout the year, and I hope now that we can do a step up from the next race onwards, but yeah it’s been exciting at the beginning of the season and that’s what we like to see.”

Leclerc’s lead over Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship has been cut to 19 points after the result in Miami.