Austrian Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc winner with a dying Ferrari: “I was scared, very scared”

A launch in more ways than one. Ferrari had been waiting for a victory at Spielberg since 2003 and Charles Leclerc had not won for five Grands Prix, he did not even have the podium honors. On Sunday, the black series ended in pain and immense relief. An anguish of eleven laps. In fact, it was during the 61st of the 71 laps of this Austrian Grand Prix that the Monegasque activated the radio alert. “The feeling on the brake pedal is strange”launched his career engineer.
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At first, the team didn’t want to sink into catastrophism. This doubt of the strange noise at the finish line is a classic among riders who are on their way to winning a victory, even among the great champions.

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“Everything is fine in telemetry”, was first reassured by his engineer, Xavier Marcos Padros, with his always calm voice. But three loops later, doubt was no longer allowed. “What about the accelerator pedal?”asked the driver of F1 75 No. 16, frankly worried.

“You can’t imagine it!”

At that moment, he was leading the way and had a 3.7 advantage over Max Verstappen (Red Bull) ° 1, warned by his stands of what was happening in front.

On lap 66 the cause of the problem was identified: the accelerator pedal did not return to its minimum travel after the driver lifted his foot. But the advice of the pits – to raise the foot suddenly when braking – did not change anything … “Sometimes it doesn’t return to 0%”said Xavier Marcos Padros. “You can’t imagine it!”replied the native of Monte Carlo.

Five complete laps were missing in front of an audience committed to the cause of Max Verstappen, who had beaten the Monegasque in the penultimate lap for victory, in 2019. And, of course, at Ferrari, this sad prospect reappeared in this moment. moment. Not to mention the fire that had just devastated Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, following a spectacular engine failure.

Three passes over Verstappen

Then, we definitely believed in the end of Charles Leclerc’s chances in the 69th of the 71 laps, when he warned: “Reports don’t go down!” But at Ferrari, we already had the answer: “Yeah, it’s for the accelerator.”

After two more rounds of anxiety, the checkered flag was there to free Charles Leclerc. “Yes! My God! I was scared, very scared”exclaimed the little prince, cutting the line.

Winner for the fifth time in Formula 1 and for the first time without leaving the pole position, Charles Leclerc regained especially on Sunday the size of world champion in power, making no more and no less than three advances to Max Verstappen, who still precedes him . 38 championship points. In fact, by changing his three pit stops, the Scuderia rider had to overtake his rival on the track so many times, on laps 12th, 33rd and 53rd. Each time in his style, after determined and clear maneuvers. “It was very hot, especially on turn 3, where there is a lot of accelerationhe said, into the Canal + microphone. So it pushed a lot and I had a lot of understeer. I had trouble stopping the car. “

“Show that you really are a champion”

“The first one was the most complicated because we had the same tiresdescribed. Then, thanks to our overall performance, we managed to stop much later, so we had much newer tires every time. It was a little easier. It was the kind of battle you like to watch. “

And to look confident for the next one, in France, on July 24: “We have a car that has worked pretty well everywhere since the start of the season, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work at Le Castellet.”

For her part, Mattia Binotto said how the last few laps have been unbearable, and it came as a relief. “I’m happy, it was very important for Charles to win, to finish ahead of Maxentrusted the director of the Ferrari team, for the French channel. He was as stressed (as Leclerc). I stopped watching the race by my side. He is able to deal with such situations. This proves that he really is a champion. He deserves it after so many disappointments. “

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