Formula 1

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc says he needed the Austrian Grand Prix victory to kick-start his season.

The Monegasque driver triumphed at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday for the first time since the Australian Grand Prix in April thanks to better tyre management on his F1-75, which also let him pass and defeat pole position leader Max Verstappen. The victory was particularly noteworthy because it followed a run of races that Leclerc has dubbed a “disaster,” in which Ferrari had missed chances to win more races. Engine problems prevented him from winning in Spain and Azerbaijan while he was in the lead, and tactical mistakes prevented him from winning again in Britain and Monaco. Leclerc’s growing dissatisfaction over how his title challenge had lost its early-season momentum led Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto to go to Monaco last week for a private dinner with the driver to discuss the situation. Leclerc made no bones about how important it was for him to get back on top after finally realizing the tremendous potential in the Ferrari. He admitted, “I absolutely needed it.” Since the first five races, I have always had a smile on my face and maintained my optimism, but obviously [with] hard race after hard race, it felt like everything was against me. Thus, we finally had a successful race, and it is satisfying to have won once more. Sainz demands for quicker F1 fire reaction after Ferrari’s Binotto was too “nervous” to watch F1 during the Austrian GP. Austrian Grand Prix’s last laps Ferrari and Charles Leclerc Submitted by Ferrari The performance in Austria, according to Leclerc, surprised him most not for Ferrari’s top speed but rather for how much Red Bull’s relative performance changed after Verstappen won the sprint race on Saturday. “It was the first time that we actually moved quite a bit faster. As a result, it comes as no surprise given how hard we’ve been working. But given that Red Bull appeared to be quite strong as well [in the sprint], Sunday’s surprise is definitely coming from Saturday. But in the grand prix, we appeared to have picked up the pace a little more than they had. So sure, it’s a pleasant surprise. Leclerc believes that Ferrari’s main issue thus far this season has not been the car’s performance, but rather its inability to realize its full potential. “It always progressed in the proper way,” he remarked. “We got a package in Barcelona and then we had another upgrade at Silverstone. With the possible exception of Miami, where we may have underperformed relative to Red Bull, I believe the performance has been excellent since Australia. Although it has performed well in the previous five races, we were unable to coordinate everything. On my side, it’s terrific that the race is now returning to normal. PRIME: The aspects of Leclerc’s victory in Austria that are promising for his F1 future Place a wager here. Place a wager here.