Charles Leclerc, Sauber, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Leclerc predicts Sauber can be “very competitive” after sixth

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Sauber’s Charles Leclerc believes the team has the potential to be “very competitive” after scoring his first career points with sixth place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“It’s an amazing weekend for the whole team and a good boost for the future,” said Leclerc after the breakthrough result in his fourth race. “We need to take that and work to get better in the race. We should enjoy the moment and tomorrow back to work for Barcelona.”

He said the result is “very important for me and for my personal confidence” following a difficult first few races.

“It’s good to have one good one where we put everything together. Obviously we have been helped by the circumstances but we took our opportunity here.

“I’ve had two very difficult first grands prix. Shanghai was a lot more positive then in the race we were not great but it happens, we haven’t put everything together. To be finally coming here and put our first points it feels good.”

Leclerc said the race has given him a clear idea where the team needs to improve. “Our race pace is stronger than our qualifying pace at the moment. In FP2 we really saw that.

“Now we need to investigate that and make our low fuel pace better. If we manage to do that we should be very competitive because our race pace at the beginning of the race was really great. Then at the end with low fuel we struggled a bit more. But P6 at the end is great.”

The 20-year-old was amazed to finish the race one place ahead of Fernando Alonso.

“Fernando was a driver I was watching when I was five years old in Monaco so to race with him today is quite crazy. To have been able to fight with him, OK we had the tyre advantage, but even at the end of the race we were looking strong compared to McLaren. The whole race we were looking strong compared to them.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “Leclerc predicts Sauber can be “very competitive” after sixth”

  1. Fernando was a driver I was watching when I was five years old in Monaco so to race with him today is quite crazy.

    All these young-uns love inadvertently calling Alonso out on his age. :-)

    Then again, Alonso can school drivers half his age on racecraft, so it’s in no way a criticism or insult.

  2. Would you say ‘Now we can fight’? Or….?

  3. Without wanting to be a massive Donnie Downer – LeClerc drove a great race and the Sauber looked like a well balanced car – I think you just need to temper expectations by looking at the circumstances of the race. Three of the top six cars dropped out, without which a sixth place becomes ninth. And while it was a good result for them to finish ahead of McLaren, again you need to keep in mind that Alonso was involved in a major incident early on which left his car quite badly damaged. I don’t think this means that the Sauberis legitimately on pace with McLaren. For sure, you need to be within spitting distance in order to capitalise on your rivals’ misfortune, and in such a crazy race it is impressive for any inexperienced driver to run at a consistent good pace and keep well out of trouble. Just, like I say, temper your expectations because I don’t for a moment think that on a ‘normal’ circuit the Sauber will be regularly challenging for points.

    1. I dont know. The Sauber looks more competetive than it has since 2014 and they really are moving steady upwards since Monisha left. P6 is lucky ofc. but he was in the points of his own which is the second time this year for the Sauber and he was just .055 behind Alonso in qualifying.

    2. Alonso’s quali run: 1:44.019
      Lecler’s : 1:44.074

      I think they were definitely on pace with the McLaren, and the one that had the updates too.

      Of course some circuits (as it looks like, low drag ones) will suit them better than others, but that’s pretty much like that throughout the grid

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