Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2019

Leclerc was surprised to catch Bottas on last lap

2019 French Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc said he was surprised to suddenly catch Valtteri Bottas in the final laps of the French Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver closed in quickly on his Mercedes rival over the final laps and even had a speculative look up the inside of Bottas at the final corner.

“I was catching quite quickly at the end,” said Leclerc. “The car felt pretty good.

“I had paid quite a lot of attention to both axles of tyres before and I was just focusing on the end of the race, to have the tyres in quite a good shape and I think on that we did quite a good job. To be honest though I did not expect to catch Valtteri.”

Leclerc was eight seconds behind Bottas with eight laps to go but started the final lap within DRS range of the Mercedes.

“It was a good surprise and when I saw that I pushed even more,” he said. “At the end we finished very, very close. I tried to show myself in the inside of the last corner, but obviously I was too far [away] to try something.”

Bottas revealed Leclerc was able to catch him because he was having trouble with his tyres, which was aggravated by the Virtual Safety Car period.

“We were suffering with some front tyres blistering in the last stint. We were a little bit concerned and just wanted to be on the safe side so we would definitely make it to the end without any failure on the front tyre.

“So had take care a lot of the fronts in many of the corners and maybe being a lot on the conservative side, losing some big chunks of time, just by managing and being on the safe side.

“In the end, that’s why it became a bit close with Charles, closer than we wanted. After the VSC we struggled a bit to re-start the tyres and lost some temperature.”

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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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8 comments on “Leclerc was surprised to catch Bottas on last lap”

  1. I was a bit frustrated why leclerc didn’t push earlier… I wish Ferrari notified him about Bottas’ bad tyres

    1. Just like in Canada Ferrari “forgot” they had Leclerc in 3rd place.

      1. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
        24th June 2019, 8:14

        They didn’t forget anything mate. Leclerc told Ferrari that the tyres wouldn’t last till the end if he pushed all the time. He managed them and attacked at the end.

        1. So why not instruct him when to push for attack Bottas. It looked like 1 or 2 laps sooner he would have taken Bottas for 2nd place.

          1. passing is totally different from catching a car. So, it only looked like that way, passing was impossible.

      2. Just like in France Mercedes “forgot” they had Bottas in 2nd place?!?

  2. Bottas problem apart, LEC apparently is able to extract something more from the car in the last laps on many races.
    It shows that cars have some unused juice on them, but some drivers can make it work.

  3. Mercedes deliberately slowing down car number 2 to spiceup things

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