Ferrari happy with Sochi progress as Vettel sacrificed for Leclerc

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"Progress" was Ferrari's word of the day after Charles Leclerc finished sixth at the Russian Grand Prix.

The Monegasque was fortunate, some would say, for not being penalised after pitching Lance Stroll into the wall at Turn 4 on the opening lap, but from there, made a long first stint work to his advantage as he scored his best result since Silverstone.

“Very happy about today,” he said post-race. “Again, from the beginning of the season it’s difficult to be happy with P6, but it’s the way it is. We maximised what we had today.

“Yesterday I was frustrated about qualifying, but in the end, I don’t think we could have done better, even with a better quali.

"So happy with the weekend, now we need to understand what we did different to be so much better in the race than Mugello, for example, but it’s a good step forward.”

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One reason for Ferrari's apparent boost in competitiveness was a small upgrade aimed at fixing some of the flaws with the SF1000 and laying the groundwork for the 2021 car. 

“I don’t think it’s the explanation of all the performance jump we have done," Leclerc admitted. “But it has definitely gone in the right direction and we should have a bigger upgrade for the next Grand Prix.

"We are working in the right direction so it should be good.”

Commenting on Ferrari's result, team boss Mattia Binotto added: “If I were to sum up the weekend in one sentence, I would say that is progress. At least compared to the previous races.

“We were able to improve in terms of competitiveness and race results.

“Charles has shown a solid run to sixth place, he made almost everything we could. He was very aggressive at the start and then showed a very mature performance.

“Sebastian [Vettel] unfortunately got stuck in traffic in the key moments.”

Vet Renaults Sochi

That last comment though is quite interesting as Vettel, who finished a lowly 13th in his 250th F1 race, feels his race was sacrificed to help Leclerc.

“It was a bit of a boring race as we didn’t have many options in terms of strategy,” said the four-time world champion.

“My start, from the dirty side of the track, wasn’t ideal and so I couldn’t benefit from other people’s crashes and collisions.

"I tried everything I could but I wasn’t able to capitalise on lap one. I didn’t really have a clear track ahead of me, so that was a shame.

“After the Safety Car period I was a bit stuck and I struggled to stay close to the cars in front of me.

“Then I think obviously we got stuck in the slow group at the back of the field and that was our race. I played the brake block until the pit stop. After that there was not much left.

“It was clear I was left out to slow down the Renaults. It didn’t help me, of course. I think we could have taken a point but that doesn’t change much now.”