“But I think that here at least we were focused on that aspect, and we managed it well. I think finally it’s good to see in the race we have the pace that we have at this point.”
A lot of homework on tyre management made the difference: “Obviously when you are struggling such as in Portimão, there is always a lesson learned. It can be car set-up, car balance, the way you manage the tyres when on track.
“So we made analysis from the data we had, discussing it with drivers, sharing with them the concerns, and sharing with them the solutions. I think coming here we tried to put in place all the possible solutions and actions.”
In Spain Leclerc’s brilliant first lap pass of Bottas and subsequent defence was one of the highlights of the race.
“It wasn’t planned,” he admitted of the move. “I just saw the opportunity at the time when I was in the car, and I just went for it. It seemed to work fine. Anyway, I was trying to find a different line to Valtteri, because Valtteri was following Lewis.
“And when you are behind the car, you are losing so much downforce, and I was just trying to get offline. And then as soon as I saw that I had quite a bit of grip on the outside, I just went for the overtake. And it worked out pretty well.”
It was inevitable that he couldn’t stay ahead of the Mercedes, and an earlier pit stop for Bottas put the Finn ahead. The good news for Ferrari was that Leclerc was able to manage his tyres, maintain a strong pace, and stay clear of Perez’s Red Bull.
“I felt very good in the car today, everything came together,” he said. “I did a good start, on the first stint we managed well the softs, which was not easy, and then managed very well also the medium. We could have gone to the end, but we only stopped because we had a free pit stop to Perez, who stopped too.
“So very good management and a very, very good pace. It’s been a strong weekend for me overall, which was good to bounce back from Portimão, where I’ve been quite off on the Friday and Saturday especially, even though I had a good race too on the Sunday. But it’s good to have a strong end to the weekend here in Barcelona.