“The season is long but it is an extremely good start”; Charles Leclerc was ‘surprised’ by his easy win in Melbourne, extending his lead to 34 points; Sergio Perez finished second, with George Russell in third; Max Verstappen suffered his second DNF of the season
By Megan Wellens
Last Updated: 10/04/22 10:02am
Charles Leclerc was surprised by Ferrari’s dominance over the Red Bull at the Australian GP and wants to keep the momentum for the home race at Imola.
Charles Leclerc says he continues to be surprised by Ferrari’s early season pace and called his big championship advantage “crazy” after a dominant victory at the Australian GP.
Leclerc was in control throughout Sunday’s race with the speed of the Ferrari giving him a healthy lead over the Red Bulls before Max Verstappen’s retirement, and he eventually took the chequered flag by over 20 seconds.
Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle said Leclerc had “stepped up a level” as he built his title lead to a whopping 34 points after just three races.
Despite controlling the championship so far with two poles and two wins, the Ferrari driver is not getting ahead of himself and was ultimately surprised at the lead he was able to get over his closest contenders.
“Honestly on our paper, maybe we need to review our paper, we were behind Red Bull on this track,” said Leclerc.
Charles Leclerc doesn’t want to think about his lead in the drivers’ championship and feels his ‘mindset’ is where it needs to be after winning the Australian GP for Ferrari.
“We were stronger than what we thought so it was a good surprise.”
Ferrari, meanwhile, have well and truly rebounded from their 2020 and 2021 slump.
“Obviously last year was a very difficult year for us but this year we have managed, well actually the team has managed because I only give feedback of what I want from the car,” stated Leclerc.
Charles Leclerc claimed his second win of the season at the Australian GP.
“I wanted to get a stronger engine, a reliable engine, and a fast car and they have managed just that.
“I am incredibly happy and proud to be driving a Ferrari and it shows how great they are because after the last two years it wasn’t a given we would be back at this level but here we are.
“Now we need to keep pushing, the season is long but it is an extremely good start.”
Leclerc: Big title lead ‘crazy’ | Brundle hails Charles
Leclerc is 34 points clear of his closest rival in the standings, who is now George Russell as Verstappen was forced to retire with a fuel issue with 20 laps remaining in Melbourne.
It has been a brilliant start to the season for the Ferrari driver but, for Leclerc, it is pivotal that his mindset stays exactly where it is now.
He said: “34 points is crazy but I really try to take it out of my head because I don’t want it to change my mindset.
Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen battle for the lead following the safety car restart of the Australian GP.
“The mindset of myself and the team at the moment is exactly where it needs to be and it needs to stay there.
“It is a good margin but we need to keep pushing and focusing on ourselves.”
Sky F1’s Brundle, meanwhile, praised the 24-year-old.
Max Verstappen doesn’t want to think about the Championship fight, as he concedes it’s more important to finish races.
“Leclerc had it all covered,” he said. “He’s stepped up a level, he’s stopped making the mistakes we’ve seen in the past, and under pressure he’s getting the job done.”
Paul Di Resta added: “He was in total control and he had an answer to everything. Exceptional job by him and he’s done an exceptional job the last few years to build that team.”
Leclerc excited as Ferrari head home to Imola
Next up for the championship leaders is a home race at the Emilia Romagna GP, with Imola ready to welcome back their dominant Ferrari team.
With Leclerc being the man of the moment, he is certainly going to get the biggest of welcomes by the Italian crowd.
Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and George Russell took the top three spots at the Australian Grand Prix.
“It is going to be crazy, I mean Italy for us it is always incredible and I can’t wait to be there.
“On the other hand, we don’t need to arrive there with the mindset of trying to do more because we have been doing incredibly well since the beginning and we don’t want to try and overdo that for a home race.
“So we need to try and manage that in the best way possible.
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“It is always tense but I just try to not think too much about where we are.
“Although the grandstand will look a bit different to here with some more red, we will just try and focus on the job and not on where we are either in the Championship or location.”