Leclerc: "It feels like a victory", but Ferrari performance still worrying
Charles Leclerc hailed his runner-up spot in a thrilling Austrian Grand Prix as "like a victory", but again issued warnings about Ferrari's lack of performance.
In a race littered with mechanical retirements and three safety car periods at the Red Bull Ring, Leclerc managed to stay out of trouble, while his SF1000 was ultimately reliable.
A five-second time penalty for Lewis Hamilton for causing a collision with Alex Albon helped promote Leclerc from third to second at the chequered flag, for which he was naturally very grateful given Ferrari's problems with its car this season.
"I'm extremely happy, to be honest. It feels like a victory," exclaimed Leclerc, who was also second in last season's race in Austria.
"We have been struggling from the beginning of the weekend. We've had luck in the race with various safety cars, crashes, penalties, and at the end we stayed on track.
"I gave my maximum and, yeah, I think we managed the race perfectly with the package we have for the moment, and to have a second place, with the performance we have had all weekend is something I would never have expected.
"We made the best out of it, and I'm extremely happy with our result, but the performance is not where we want to be."
As to where Leclerc rates that race at the start of his third season, the 22-year-old replied: "I would probably rate that as one of my best races since I arrived in Formula 1 because I really didn't do many mistakes, so I'm extremely happy with the performance, with the strategy, our choices.
"And it's not been easy because in the first part of the race, it was actually pretty boring for us, but I really pushed to stay focused. We were doing some quite good lap times, extracting the maximum out of the car, and it paid off in the end so that was great."
With no upgrades on the car until the third race in Hungary, another battle of attrition looms next weekend for Leclerc and Ferrari given F1 will race at the same Austrian venue.
Asked as to whether the car's race performance was better than that in qualifying, Leclerc said: "No, unfortunately not. We are quick around the corners, but we struggled. We will have a new package in Hungary to try and fix this issue a little more, but we will see.
"It has been a very difficult race today, struggling to overtake, but every time somebody made a mistake then I was being very aggressive to try and take the opportunity, and I'm very happy again to be P2."
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