Arthur Leclerc showed strong signs of progress with an exciting charge in Race 2 that saw him make up 21 places. However, he suffered some bad luck in the first and third races in Spielberg this weekend.
Arthur Leclerc’s points haul from Spielberg was not what it should have been, as his car had a technical problem in Race-1 and he was forced off track in Race-3 by an aggressive move from another driver. The Ferrari Driver Academy student showed that he has made a great deal of progress, with a spectacular performance in Race-2 that saw him go from 27th on the grid to sixth at the flag. The overall result of the weekend is a bit disappointing, but on the plus side, he showed excellent race pace, which is good sign for the rest of the season.
Qualifying. Before coming to Spielberg, Leclerc’s preparation had focused on qualifying performance, which is a key step for all rookies in the competitive Formula 3 series. The Austrian track is only 4.318 kilometres in length, which means that traffic is always a problem and the start of qualifying was even more frantic than usual because of the threat of rain. On his first set of tyres, Leclerc put up a promising seventh fastest time, then with seven minutes remaining, the 30 drivers took to the track for the final run. Arthur ended up ninth fastest, just 0.249 seconds off pole, despite the difficulty of trying to get a clean lap with no traffic. “It was a difficult qualifying because of the traffic management,” said the Monegasque. “In general, my pace was good, but I made a small mistake on what would have been my fastest lap.”
Race-1. His qualifying result meant Arthur started the opening race from fourth on the grid. But his race ended early because of technical problem, which meant he was unable to score points. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish the race,” said Arthur. “The DRS got stuck open and I ended up in a gravel trap run–off area. It was a real shame as the pace was good and it was a lost opportunity to score good points.”
Fighting back in Race-2. The second race was also held on Saturday and Leclerc lined up 27th on the Spielberg grid, the poor position down to the fact he did not finish the first race. Arthur carefully managed the opening laps, 24th by lap 4 after two laps behind the Safety Car. After that he pushed really hard and started to move up the order. At half distance he was 14th and then he went even quicker setting the race fastest lap and headed for the top ten, With four laps to go, he was eighth and in the closing stages gained another two places to cross the finish line in sixth place. “After the bad luck not to finish Race 1, I am very happy to have been able to show what I can do,” commented Arthur. “It’s a shame I had to start so far back, but it was a great race and I think I took every opportunity to make up places.”
Race-3. In today’s main race of the weekend which has more points on offer than the first two, Arthur started ninth and kept that position until lap 2 when he began to attack and move up the order. On lap 9, he was sixth, again setting the fastest race lap as he closed in on the leaders with some spectacular passing moves around the outside of turn 6. The race came to life with cars running nose to tail and overtaking all the time and it was on lap 15 that Victor Martins forced Leclerc onto the grass on the outside of turn 4. Arthur lost control and ended up in the gravel, taking Clement Novalak with him. It was an unfortunate end to a weekend in which Leclerc’s points tally did not match up to the potential he demonstrated on track. The Formula 3 series will be back in action over the weekend of 1st August, with the fourth round taking place at the Hungaroring.