After starting in pole position at the Mexico City Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc found himself sandwiched between the two Red Bulls and was lucky to escape with only light damage. The Monegasque went on to place third, earning his 28th career podium.
It was a chaotic start at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Scuderia Ferrari’s duo, Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc and Spaniard Carlos Sainz, began in a dominant position – P1 and P2 – but immediately felt the pressure of Red Bull’s Mav Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
All four cars battled down the long straight, but Sainz was the first to fall back, leaving his teammate Leclerc up front and between the two rival cars.
As the Ferrari and Red Bulls took the first corner, Leclerc and Perez made contact, resulting in extensive damage for the Mexican driver and an unexpected early retirement from the race.
Leclerc’s SF-23 sustained damage to the left front wing end plate, which eventually fell off. Despite the loss of downforce, he managed to hold on and achieve third place behind Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Sainz also experienced a tough race, but would eventually take a respectable fourth position.
“A tricky one”
“It was a tricky one,” said Leclerc post-race. “I was caught between the two Red Bulls at the start and unfortunately Checo (Perez) and I touched, which led to me picking up some damage on the car and to Checo retiring… Later on, we struggled a bit on the hards after the restart. Lewis (Hamilton) was really strong on the mediums and had very little degradation, getting ahead of us. It’s not where we wanted to finish, but we maximised our result.”
Team Principal for Scuderia Ferrari, Frédéric Vasseur, admitted that it wasn’t the result he had been hoping for after a start on the front row for both his drivers.
“Given how the race was run, I think we almost did the best we could with our car today,” he said. “We knew the start would be tricky because of the long run to the first corner, in which the slipstream can have a big effect and for sure our start today was not ideal. We need to keep working to reduce the performance difference between our qualifying and race pace, given that, especially on the hards, we struggled too much compared to our rivals who were able to manage the tyres better than us.”
The grid will now be preparing to depart Mexico, which hosted the 20th race on the 23-Round calendar, and head to Brazil for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit this coming weekend.
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Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari Media Centre