Charles Leclerc says his last-lap attack on Valtteri Bottas for second place at the French Grand Prix “definitely not a manoeuvre to overtake”, while he felt content with securing consecutive podium finishes for Ferrari.

The Ferrari driver struggled to match the race pace of Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for the majority of the race at Circuit Paul Ricard but having managed his tyre life in the second stint he rapidly closed the gap on Bottas in the closing laps.

Following a brief Virtual Safety Car period, which allowed Leclerc to close the deficit even quicker, the Ferrari driver was within one second of the Mercedes driver and despite a late lung at the final corner Leclerc felt his shot at second place was never completely on.

“It is always quite difficult to know but one thing for sure is that I was catching quite quickly towards the end,” Leclerc said. “The car felt very good as I paid a lot of attention to both sets of tyres before and I was focusing for the end of the race to have the tyres in a good shape. On that I think we did quite a good job.

“To be honest I didn’t expect to catch Valtteri and as he mentioned he had some issues with the front tyres so that is why I caught quite dramatically towards the end which was a good surprise.

“When I saw that I pushed even more and in the end we finished and I tried to show myself on the inside of the last corner but I was too far back to try something.”

Despite narrowly missing out on the runner-up spot, Leclerc was content with his French Grand Prix performance as a whole after making changes to his approach in qualifying which set up his podium charge.

“I am very happy because I have a few difficult weekends over the last ones especially in qualifying,” he said. “I have changed the approach for here and I also changed my approach a little bit on the car setup and went in the right direction so for that I am very happy that it paid off and we have seen it on the results this weekend.

“Then on the car improvements we have brought some new parts for the car this weekend and some worked and some others have not but clearly Mercedes are quite better for now so we need to work and catch up.”

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