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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished runner-up in Austria for the second year running on Sunday but the Monegasque champion says it still felt like a win.
Leclerc had bemoaned Ferrari’s poor performance after only just scraping through into Q3 in qualifying before ending up seventh, while team mate Sebastian Vettel was out in Q2.
He then spent much of the early part of the 2020 season opener demonstrating midfield pace, spending the majority of the race snarled up in sixth behind Sergio Perez and Lando Norris.
But an inspired final few laps saw Leclerc climb past the pair to finish third at the flag – which became second once Lewis Hamilton was penalised for contact with Alex Albon, whose subsequent fall down the order had also helped Leclerc gain places.
“To have a P2…with the performance we had all weekend is something I would have never expected so we made the best out of it,” said Leclerc, a double race winner last season. “It feels like a victory today.”
The 22-year-old Ferrari driver told reporters the season-opener was one of his best races since he arrived in Formula One in 2018.
Hungary is the third round of the season, with Austria hosting a second race next weekend titled the Styrian Grand Prix after the surrounding region.
“Charles drove an amazing race, fighting like a lion from the first to the last lap and making the most of every opportunity that came his way,” said team boss Mattia Binotto. “Today’s second place is mainly down to him.”
Photo: Charles Leclerc, F1.com
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