With Charles Leclerc securing his first pole position of 2021 during yesterday’s qualifying, Scuderia Ferrari looked ahead to a potential first win of the year before Charles reported gearbox issues on his way to the grid.
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Photos: Scuderia Ferrari
Prior to the start of the race, Leclerc was forced to the pit lane with the issue, prompting the team to opt for a pit lane start. Despite this issue removing Leclerc from pole, teammate Carlos Sainz was now promoted to third place. Charles’ issue was then revealed to be a left driveshaft problem, which unfortunately prevented Charles from taking part in his home Grand Prix.
As the lights went out, Max Verstappen held onto the lead, as Carlos kept third position behind the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas., continuing in the position as the cars came round to end the first of 78 laps. Holding onto third, Carlos was able to push in the opening five laps and was able to pull away from the McLaren of Lando Norris behind.
As the drivers got onto lap 20, Carlos continued to keep up with the leading pair of Bottas and Verstappen, staying within two seconds of the Mercedes in front. Lewis Hamilton was the first of the top six to pit on lap 30 for a set of hard compound tyres, followed by teammate Bottas the following lap. An issue with Bottas’ pit stop left him stranded in the pit lane and out of the race, promoting Carlos up to second position.
Lap 33 saw Carlos pit from second place, re-joining behind the Red Bull of Sergio Perez in third. The following lap saw Verstappen pit from the lead, coming out behind teammate Perez. Carlos then reclaimed second position as Perez switched to a set of hard compound tyres on lap 35.
Throughout the next couple of laps, Carlos was able to manage the gap to the race leader Verstappen, keeping within three seconds of the Red Bull, while also managing to extend the gap from third-placed Norris behind.
On lap 55, Carlos decided to start going quicker in order to close the gap further to Verstappen and possibly challenge for the lead.
With 15 laps to go, Carlos held onto second, now five seconds behind the race leader Verstappen. Lando Norris remained in third, now struggling on his current set of hard compound tyres and losing time to fourth-placed Perez behind.
Despite initially suffering with graining on his hard compound tyres, Carlos reported feeling better with the situation as the race came into its closing stages. Unable to close up to his former Toro Rosso teammate, Carlos took the chequered flag to take second place and his first podium for Scuderia Ferrari, a good end and result for the team after the disappointment of losing Charles at the start of the race.
Written by Cóilín Higgins.