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F1 2024 Japanese GP – Driver of the Day

Charles Leclerc came from eighth on the grid to take fourth place in Suzuka

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Charles Leclerc has been named Driver of the Day for the Formula 1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix after a superb recovery drive at Suzuka secured Ferrari crucial points in the drivers’ and constructors’ championship.

The Monegasque endured a horrible qualifying session after starting eighth on the grid, having only been allowed one run on the soft tyres due to his error in Q1.

But Leclerc made amends in the race, showing why he is absolutely in the conversation to rival Max Verstappen for the championship.

The 26-year-old made a fine overtake on Lap 1 before the red flag restart meant it was deleted from the classification and he was forced to go back to P8. But after a mega 27-lap stint on the medium tyre, he managed to lift himself up the order and got past both McLarens.

When his engineer, Xavi Padros, informed him about the news, Leclerc responded on the radio with a message borne out of relief: “Thank you. F***ing hell. P4. I thought we could’ve done better at some point, but it’s life.”

A small blot on Leclerc’s race

The only blot on his race saw him going off at Degna 2, losing the place to Sergio Perez, and then he was passed by his team-mate Carlos Sainz on fresher tyres. He might not be happy about losing to his garage neighbour, especially as he is leaving the team.

But it was a case of damage limitation to come home in fourth after a wretched qualifying, and with most of his rivals scrapping away with each other behind him, he was able to bring home the car in one piece.

His haul of 12 points means he is third in the championship on 59 overall and only 17 behind Verstappen after the first four races.

It means that in all of the first four races, Ferrari drivers have been named Driver of the Day, which is the award chosen by fans watching at home.

Sainz took the Driver of the Day award in Bahrain and Australia, while 18-year-old Oliver Bearman took the prize in Saudi Arabia when replacing Sainz. Now Leclerc has joined his Ferrari colleagues in the same territory and few would argue against him being picked.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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