Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 2nd in Jeddah: « We attacked like never before, to the absolute limit »

A new virile duel may be correct: Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen went to the limit of what is possible in terms of commitment to the track, deploying treasures of ingenuity to decide between themselves at the head of the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia, Sunday on the street circuit of Jeddah. Far from the controversies that had punctuated the fight for the supreme title between the Red Bull driver and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) last year, the Monegasque and the Dutchman continued the mano a mano they had sketched out at Sakhir.

For 50 laps, the two young people who embody the future of Formula 1 fought wheel to wheel, and ended up greeting each other, thumbs up at the initiative of the native of the Principality, in the lap of honor of the second round of the World Cup. A mark of respect that turns the page on the F1 of 2021 and their sulfurous years of karting too.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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On Sunday, the No.16 Ferrari driver started second on the grid, behind Sergio Pérez’s No.11 Red Bull, and he came second in the wake of the reigning world champion’s No.1 RB18. Quite sure of his driving and the qualities of his F1 75, Charles Leclerc spent most of the race in the lead and only lost on the 46th of the 50 laps.

The game of cat and mouse

As it happens, it was a racing incident that tipped the scales. Like the highlights, teams and drivers have to know how to manage the weak moments and the red pair fared less well than the navy blue pair when Eduardo Freitas, the race director, opened a virtual safety car period to evacuate the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso immobilized in the pit straight, near the entrance to the pit lane. Charles Leclerc kept his tires in temperature less well and exposed himself to the sanction that Verstappen dreamed of inflicting on him.

The pilot from the Principality did not, however, give up his arms easily. At the end of the 42nd lap, he saw the RB18 tumbling in front of him at the entrance to the last corner (n°27) and immediately passed it back to the DRS. A lap later he slammed along with the Batave to let him cut the DRS senseline first, so he could pass it again with the help of the rear wing open. His attempt ended in failure, he had kept his place, but it was only a reprieve. Time for « Super Max » to slip inside the last corner to conclude on the 46th lap. And fly away for good.

The scene may have seemed strange, but we had already seen it last year, and it was only proof of the cunning that everyone can use to achieve their ends. “Did you see how he played it very intelligently in the last corner?”, remarked Max Verstappen, at the microphone of Canal +.

“That respect has always been there”

For his part, Charles Leclerc accepted the verdict, knowing now that he would have other chances to emerge victorious because Sakhir was not just a one shot. « It wasn’t enough today but I really enjoyed this racehe told David Coulthard, hot. It was a very tough but fair race. All races should be like this. It was fun. Of course, I’m disappointed because I wanted to win. We had two different setups with Max. We were quite fast in the corners but quite slow on the straights, because we had more downforce. It was extremely difficult for me to cover Max on the straights. He did a really good job and the race was phenomenal. »

And to comment on this fight with his opponent who gives a breath of fresh air to Formula 1. « That respect has always been there, especially when you finish a race like this.he said. We are on a track in town, we attacked like never before, to the absolute limit. We took risks and there is respect, of course. »

To the 18 units of his second place, Charles Leclerc added the bonus point for the fastest lap in the race, in lap 48. With 45 points out of a possible 52 in two races, he leads the World Championship with a 12 length lead over his teammate Carlos Sainz, third, and 20 over Max Verstappen. And in the Constructors’ World Championship, Ferrari’s grip is even clearer as the Scuderia have amassed 78 points, 40 more than Mercedes and 41 more than Red Bull.

« It didn’t come down to much, we were in the lead a lot of lapsreacted Mattia Binotto, Ferrari team manager, for Canal +. We lose it in the last laps, it’s a shame, but Red Bull was very fast this weekend, Max too. It was a great race. The show was amazing for everyone. On our side, it was important to finish the race, to score points. Out of 88 available, we’re doing 78. It’s very good like that, we’re off to a good start. »

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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