Charles Leclerc: Maiden F1 win relieves some pressure

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari driver

Charles Leclerc says his maiden Formula 1 victory has relieved some of the pressure on him for the remainder of the season.

Leclerc stepped up from Sauber to Ferrari for 2019 and almost won on his second start in Bahrain, until a late cylinder failure, while he led for large swathes in Austria until being passed late on by Max Verstappen.

Leclerc dominated last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix weekend, scoring pole by seven-tenths of a second, and controlled the race, resisting late pressure from Lewis Hamilton.

“Obviously it was a very tough weekend for different reasons with what happened on Saturday,” said Leclerc, referring to the death of Anthoine Hubert.

“But also we knew that with the performance we had in the race, it was going to be difficult because Mercedes was very, very strong with their race pace, so it was a tough weekend but in the end we managed to put everything together.

“I think there was great teamwork between myself and Seb [Vettel] that did the job keeping Lewis behind for those few laps which has been very helpful for me at the end of the race.

“Looking back I am very happy that this first win is done. It is always very difficult to do this first step but once you do it, it takes quite a bit out of your shoulders and I’m very proud.

“[There’s] not much time to think about it because we are here only four days later in Italy and we need to focus fully on the job we need to do here.”

Leclerc revealed after the race that he had kept radio traffic to a minimum, and joked: “To be honest, I’ve got no ideas why I didn’t speak.

“The engineers thought there was something wrong on the radio actually because I was not speaking.

“I had nothing to say, they were giving me the information I needed and I just focused on the job behind the wheel. That’s it.”