Starting P12, Leclerc made a good start at the Saudi Arabian GP on Sunday (March 19), finding himself in the top ten after the first few laps. However, he was caught out by the mid-race safety car, as it hampered his progress, allowing Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton to overtake him.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Leclerc said that he was stuck behind his teammate Carlos Sainz for the rest of the race and did not have much pace. He said about Mercedes' pace:
“I don’t know if they were out of reach. The thing is that once I got within a second and a half to Carlos, it was very difficult to get any closer than that – the pace difference wasn’t big enough. I did a small mistake when I was within DRS, and then when I lost it, then that was it. I just stayed there. So it’s like this. Honestly, I don’t think there was much more anyway in the car today. We just need to work to find some pace.”
Charles Leclerc finished P7.
"There wasn’t much more we could have extracted today" - Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc said that he could not extract more pace from the car after his fast start and a good first stint on soft tyres. While analszing his race on Ferrari's website, he said:
"There wasn’t much more we could have extracted today. Our first stint on the softs was pretty strong, and I could push, making up some positions. Just after we switched to hards, the safety car came out, so unfortunately we didn’t gain an advantage there.
"Our pace was not as good as we expected on the hards, and the rest of the race was spent in a train with Carlos. We have work to do on our race pace and will push to come back stronger in Australia."
Sainz also admitted that it was a tough race for the team:
"It was a tough Sunday. Going into the race and looking at the sessions over the weekend, we were expecting a better race pace. We have work to do, and we know the car is not where we want it to be at the moment. However, we will keep pushing, and I am fully confident we can improve the situation."
It will be interesting to see if Charles Leclerc and Ferrari can bounce back in Australia and present a sterner challenge to early pacesetters Red Bull.