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F1 Raceweek: Leclerc encouraged by 'competitive' Ferrari car heading to Sochi

By Ben Spratt
Charles Leclerc claimed back-to-back wins in Belgium and at Monza, but finished second in Singapore

Sochi, September 25: Ferrari are raring to go again in Russia with Charles Leclerc keen to see the Scuderia maintain their stunning upturn in form in Formula One.

After a tough start to the campaign in which Ferrari did not recorded a single victory, the Italian outfit have come to life since the mid-season break.

Leclerc claimed back-to-back wins in Belgium and at Monza, before Sebastian Vettel triumphed in Singapore to end a long personal drought.

It was a one-two for Ferrari, too, although Leclerc made his feelings clear over the team radio as pit-stop tactics saw Vettel edge in front of him.

But Leclerc was diplomatic in his post-race comments and remained that way as he looked forward to Sochi, hoping the recent upgrades to his SF90 would again prove effective.

"Arriving in Russia with three positive weekends behind us feels great," he said.

"We have made good progress on our car, especially in terms of our performance on high downforce tracks, and seem to be more competitive on tracks with various layouts now.

"The Sochi circuit can be challenging, featuring a combination of high-speed straights and lots of corners, especially in the last sector.

"I look forward to getting back in the car on Friday to see how it goes at this circuit and time will tell whether we can be as strong here as we have been lately."

Team principal Mattia Binotto added: "After taking three wins in a row, we are keen to get to Russia to see and check how our latest updates will work on what is yet again a different type of track."

Max Verstappen finished third in Singapore, holding off Lewis Hamilton for a place on the podium, but he still was not happy with Red Bull's performance.

"From Austria onwards, it's maybe our worst race in terms of performance, where we expected to be really good," he said.

"I have a few ideas why it went wrong so we will analyse all of them and see if we can already be better in Sochi."

TALK OF THE PADDOCK

Hamilton might have been hit by a setback last time out, but he at least avoided a further blow relating to the German Grand Prix earlier in the season.

Post-race penalties saw Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi lose their seventh- and eighth-place finishes, prompting an Alfa Romeo appeal.

However, the FIA's international court of appeal dismissed their claim on Tuesday, meaning Hamilton, who finished a disappointing ninth, kept his two points.

RACEWEEK SCHEDULE (all times local)

Friday

FP1 (11:00-12:30)

FP2 (15:00-16:30)

Saturday

FP3 (12:00-13:00)

Qualifying (15:00-16:00)

Sunday

Race (14:10-16:10)

F1 FACT

Mercedes have won all five previous editions of the Russian Grand Prix (Hamilton three times, Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas).

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Lewis Hamilton 2017: Valtteri Bottas

2016: Nico Rosberg

DRIVER STANDINGS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 296

2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 231 (-65)

3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 200 (-96)

4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 200 (-96)

5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 194 (-102)

CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

1. Mercedes 527

2. Ferrari 394 (-133)

3. Red Bull 289 (-238)

4. McLaren 89 (-438)

5. Renault 67 (-460)

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Story first published: Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 1:20 [IST]
Other articles published on Sep 25, 2019
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