MELBOURNE – Australian Grand Prix winner Charles Leclerc hailed his team for producing a fast car after Ferrari stormed to the most dominant win of the Formula One season at Albert Park on Sunday.
Starting from pole, the 24-year-old from Monaco crossed the finish line more than 20 seconds ahead of Red Bull’s runner-up Sergio Perez to claim his fourth career win in style.
Having gone winless in the last two years as Ferrari struggled, Leclerc has now won two of the last three races, including the season-opener in Bahrain, to emerge as the early championship favorite.
“It feels incredible … because now I know underneath me I’ve got a car that is capable of winning,” Leclerc told reporters.
“I know that it’s in the car and I just have to do the job, so the mindset is a little bit different this year.”
Leclerc has now taken a 34-point lead in the drivers’ championship ahead of George Russell, who was third for Mercedes on Sunday.
Ferrari head to their home Italian Grand Prix in two weeks with huge momentum, but Leclerc tried to clamp down on the growing hype.
“I don’t want to focus too much on the championship for now,” he said.
“Italy will be incredible, but we need to approach the race weekend just like we approach the first three weekends.
“I think it’s extremely important not to put on ourselves extra pressure and not try to overdo things.”
Ferrari’s celebrations were tempered by a crash for Leclerc’s partner driver Carlos Sainz soon after he suffered a terrible start from ninth on the grid on hard tyres.
After a skid through grass, he spun across the track and thudded into a wall to finish his race quickly.
That followed set-up problems with his car during qualifying on Saturday.
Sainz said he made a mistake with his tyres but was already disrupted by having his steering wheel changed just before his installation lap.
“We haven’t been great this weekend, it’s been a bit of a disaster so we need to learn from it,” said the Spaniard.
“I shouldn’t have done the mistake and we shouldn’t have the problems with the steering that we had yesterday and today.”