Leclerc "wouldn't have believed" 2019 results

Charles Leclerc says his first year as a Ferrari Formula 1 driver was better than he expected because he did not believe he would score such good results in 2019.

Leclerc "wouldn't have believed" 2019 results

Leclerc stepped up to Ferrari after just one season in F1 with Sauber and almost won from pole on his second start with the Maranello team, but was foiled by an engine problem in Bahrain.

However, he eventually claimed his first victory in Belgium before following that up with a second win one week later at Ferrari’s home race in Italy.

Leclerc scored seven poles, more than any other driver, over the course of the season and while he did not add to his tally of two victories, he did score a further eight podiums and finished fourth in the championship, 24 points clear of his four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel.

“I'm happy, at the beginning of the season if you will have told me you will have seven poles and 10 podiums, I wouldn't have believed it,” said Leclerc when asked by Motorsport.com about his season. “So it's definitely better than what I expected.

“Looking back though there are quite a few mistakes so the targets now is to understand them and to not do them again. But I am satisfied about this first season.”

Leclerc had many opportunities to earn his breakthrough win before the summer break, but crashed in qualifying in Azerbaijan (where he had threatened for pole), was passed by Max Verstappen on the penultimate lap in Austria and crashed in the rain-hit German Grand Prix, which he would have likely started from pole had another reliability problem not struck in qualifying.

After the summer break, Leclerc could have won four races in a row – a Ferrari strategy quirk denied him victory in Singapore and gave Vettel the win instead, before Vettel’s retirement in Russia caused a safety car that took the win from Leclerc there.

His final pole, in Mexico, turned into fourth in the race because of Ferrari’s strategy.

“It’s not been an easy season,” Leclerc admitted. “The first part we have been struggling but I think we've been working well and I think the hard work paid off on the second part of the season with two incredible wins.

“Obviously Monza is something that was beyond all of my dreams. To be on top of that podium with hundreds and thousands fans of Ferrari was absolutely crazy. These experiences I will never forget them this first year I will never forget it.

“Then again, I've still got a lot of work to do to get better. But I'll put my head down and get better.”

Leclerc said he learned “a huge amount” in his first year with Ferrari and his priority was to ensure any errors made in 2019 are not repeated.

“I'm pretty sure well it will only get better from this season,” he said.

shares
comments
Gordon Murray working with Racing Point on £2m ‘fan car’

Previous article

Gordon Murray working with Racing Point on £2m ‘fan car’

Next article

Grosjean reveals "weakness" Steiner says he can't handle

Grosjean reveals "weakness" Steiner says he can't handle
Load comments
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Prime

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall...

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Prime

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Prime

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't Prime

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says Oleg Karpov, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Prime

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says Mark Gallagher, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors.

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021