More points for Leclerc and Sauber after relentless uphill battle
Charles Leclerc delivered another top ten finish at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday, the fifth in six races, the Sauber rookie labeling his challenging Austrian Grand Prix as his best race so far this season.
Leclerc vowed to push from the outset following a five-spot grid penalty attached to a gearbox replacement. His charging enthusiasm got the better of him however shortly after the start, dropping him down the order to the tail end of the field.
He put his head down thereafter and progressively made up the lost ground to haul himself in to the top ten after a relentless but fun 54-lap effort.
“I did a mistake in the early laps which cost us – and that was a little bit of a shame,” he said.
“After advancing quite a bit at the start, I fell back after a few laps and had a tough job ahead of me to recover enough positions to score some points.
“But after that, I think it’s the best race of this year. It was an exciting day. There was a lot of action during the race, and some good overtakes, so I really enjoyed driving today.”
He lost a spot to an incisive Fernando Alonso but then gained a position when he edged out Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, ultimately concluding his day of racing in P9.
“The strategy was a little bit difficult because we went on the softs very early and it was very difficult for the rear tyres at the end. But I managed to get another two points again.”
But wait, there’s more! Indeed, Sauber’s sunny Sunday at Spielberg was completed by a solid drive by Marcus Ericsson, one that yielded a championship point thanks to the Swede’s P10 finish and which brought the team its first double-points result since the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix!
Team work was in full force in the Swiss camp on Sunday, with Leclerc letting his team mate by in the closing stages of the race in the hope Ericsson could reel in Alonso’s McLaren. And when he couldn’t, Marcus handed the position back to the Monegasque.
“It was a great race. I felt good in the car, and had strong pace right from the start of the race. Our strategy worked very well,” said Ericsson.
“We also had another fast pitstop from the mechanics and I am really proud of the crew.
“It’s a great result for the team to have both cars finish in the points today, especially after the difficult qualifying yesterday.
“We can all be proud of how we bounced back. I am really happy for the team and myself. I look forward to Silverstone, one of my favourite tracks.”