2018 Sauber F1 driver Leclerc: F2 season couldn't have ended better

Ferrari junior driver and 2018 Sauber Formula 1 recruit Charles Leclerc reckons his final win in Formula 2 meant his title-winning rookie season "couldn't have ended in a better way"

2018 Sauber F1 driver Leclerc: F2 season couldn't have ended better

Leclerc, who will join the Alfa Romeo-branded Sauber squad as team-mate to Marcus Ericsson for next year, charged from seventh on the grid to win the last F2 race of the season in Abu Dhabi last month.

He put in a series of passes at the Yas Marina circuit before dramatically fighting his way by long-time race leader Alexander Albon on the final tour, briefly making contact in the process.

"It was great," Leclerc told Autosport.

"Last year we didn't have the chance to end the championship on a win [Leclerc sealed in the 2016 GP3 title in Abu Dhabi despite crashing out]

"So to end this one with a win was great and the way we did [it] was very great. I think it's probably one of the best races I had this season.

"We managed the tyres very well - we had to wait a little bit at the beginning because the pace of the top four was a bit too quick, so I had to wait and push at the end, and in the end our strategy worked.

"I'm very happy with this and also with the very exciting last lap - it couldn't have ended in a better way."

Leclerc finished the 2017 season with a 72-point margin of victory in the drivers' standings and scored seven wins, wrapping up the title with a round to spare at Jerez in October.

The Monegasque racer won on his first F2 weekend appearance in the sprint event of the Bahrain season opener, but says it was his feature race win at the following round at Barcelona that gave him the belief that a rookie title win could be on.

He reckons his progress in tyre management between the two rounds was key to that victory.

"It was difficult to know anything before Barcelona," he said.

"[In Bahrain] race two we took a different strategy, which made us win, but the tyre management in this race two was not the biggest thing because I didn't have to manage [the rubber] because we put the set on in the middle of the race.

"So we didn't really know about the tyre management, and I didn't know what to expect for the other races during the year, as I knew that tyre management was a big thing in Formula 2.

"Then coming to Barcelona, doing the pole on a normal qualifying [the session in Bahrain was red flagged] and winning the race because we were quicker than the others and that's it, that really showed us the potential we had.

"That really opened [our] eyes that we had the potential to win the championship."

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