Leclerc maintained the lead into Turn 1 from pole position on the opening lap.

It didn’t take long for Hamilton to get past Leclerc, making the most of Mercedes’ superior straight-line speed on Lap 3.

The Monegasque driver went on to finish fourth, having lost out to Pierre Gasly through the stops and then Sebastian Vettel on track.

Reflecting on his fight with Hamilton, the Ferrari driver revealed he was forced to cut Turn 15 to avoid a tree branch on track - Max Verstappen was forced to do the same as seen on the TV world feed.

“Yeah, that wasn’t great,” Leclerc said. “I have no idea what that was. I saw the slippery track in Turn 15 and then I got quite surprised with this thing there, so I had to go out, and then I slowed down to not gain time, and unfortunately, that’s where it started to slip away from us, because we got overtaken by Lewis and then it was a bit more difficult in dirty air so a bit of a shame, but this is not the cause of our P4 anyway today, we would have got overtaken a bit later.”

Ferrari went into the race knowing it couldn’t compete with Mercedes and Red Bull, but Leclerc admits he was surprised by the pace of AlphaTauri and Aston Martin.

“I really enjoyed the last part but the first part of the race wasn’t great,” Leclerc added. “It was, let’s say, as expected, it wasn’t a huge disappointment, it was expected. We knew that Max, the Red Bulls and Mercedes had quite a bit more pace than us on the long runs, so I tried to not fight them too much., tried to focus on my own race.

“But I think the two big surprises of today are the two Aston Martins that were flying, and we need to understand it because they definitely did something right today.”

 

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