Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc says his unexpected second place in the Austrian Grand Prix “feels like a victory” after the Italian team struggled for performance all weekend.
Leclerc only managed to qualify seventh, but after a strong run in a race of high attrition he moved up to third on the road at the flag, having passed Lando Norris and Sergio Perez in the closing stages of the race.
A five-second penalty for Lewis Hamilton then moved him up to second place in the final classification, which the Monegasque admitted had come as a surprise.
“I’m extremely happy, it feels like a victory today,” he said.
“I did not expect it either. A nice surprise but a good one.
“I think we did everything perfect today to be honest to finish second.
“We had a little bit of luck, obviously, with Lewis’s penalty, some crashes here and there.
“That was a goal to take every opportunity we had, even though we didn’t have the pace to to finish where we were I think.”
Leclerc said he was “extremely satisfied” with the result, but conceded that Ferrari has “still a lot of work to do” to trouble the dominant Mercedes.
“We are still far away and we are not where we want to be, but anything is possible,” he said.
“So we need to keep the mental strong, all the team work as a team and I’m pretty sure we’ll come very well, it will take time.”
Leclerc added that the limitations of the car’s performance meant he had to be “very aggressive” to gain positions and cited it as “one of my best races” since making his F1 debut in 2018.
“I wanted to be very aggressive because at every safety car I was struggling at Turn 1 to Turn 3, I knew there was no opportunity for me here,” he said.
“But I knew that my opportunity will come if me someone will do a mistake and Lando slowed down a little bit with Sergio and I went for it.
“The other one with Sergio was pretty tough but I enjoyed it.
“I would rate this as one of my best races since I arrived in F1, because I didn’t do any mistakes.”