After a mistake in qualifying, the Monegasque driver staged a fantastic fight back in Race-1, which laid the groundwork for a win in Race-2. It’s Leclerc’s first Formula 3 win in his second race weekend in the category.
“After a Friday to forget, I couldn’t imagine that 24 hours later I’d be standing on the top step of the podium,” said a delighted Arthur Leclerc after a 20-lap charge took him from pole position to his first Formula 3 win. The result never looked in doubt after Arthur got a great start that saw him lead into the first corner. The key moment came on the ninth and tenth laps when championship leader Denis Hauger moved up to second place.
Counter attack. Once the Monegasque Ferrari Driver Academy member realised Hauger was on his tail, he responded with a string of very quick laps that saw him build up a lead of four seconds, a gap he maintained to the chequered flag. “I am very happy,” commented Arthur. “The car was perfect and the team did a great job, so it’s nice to see the results proved us right.” The entire Prema team gathered under the podium for the festivities, joined by Arthur’s brother Charles, Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto, Racing Director Laurent Mekies and fellow Academy member Mick Schumacher.
Difficult qualifying. The win in the second race at Paul Ricard followed on from a pretty unlucky start to proceedings for Leclerc. On his first flying lap in qualifying, Arthur made a mistake, which ended his session after seven minutes. “It was tough not even doing one timed lap in qualifying, especially as free practice had looked promising,” he said. “I hit a kerb at the start of my flying lap and I had to stop as the car was damaged. I didn’t take any big risks and honestly I had not expected something like this to happen.” It meant Leclerc started from last on the grid in Race-1 and he will do the same in Race-3 tomorrow.
Groundwork. Leclerc’s only aim in the first race was to make his way from 30th on the grid to 12th place, which would see him start Race-2 from pole with its reversed grid. No easy task, but he set about it, immediately carving his way through the field running at a very fast pace. Lap after lap he overtook cars ahead of him until he finally made it to 12th at the flag. It laid the groundwork for the win a few hours later.
Tomorrow, Race-3. The second round of the Formula 3 season ends tomorrow with the Feature Race which gets underway at 11.40, although unfortunately, Arthur will yet again have to start from the back of the grid.