DAMS rookie Arthur Leclerc takes us back to a race weekend he remembers very fondly, one that put him and his rivals under intense pressure that he ultimately thrived upon.

Mugello is already a daunting track by itself, but with changeable weather conditions and a perfect weekend at stake, Leclerc talks us through the second race of a memorable weekend in 2020.

“It’s not just a special race, but it was a race weekend that was the most successful in all of my career. Mugello in Formula Regional, there were three races, and I won all three, but there was one race in particular that sticks out in my mind. The weather was really unpredictable the whole time we were there, so we went on the wet tyres on the first lap. I started from pole position, did three laps, destroyed the tyres and had to box for slicks. When we changed to slicks, as soon as I left the pits, I’ve never seen a storm like it. The track was fully wet and impossible to stay on slicks, that lap was so long, it was crazy bad and really tricky.

“We had to box again and then we finished on the wet tyres, starting in P14 or P13 at the restart, but still managed to come back and win the race. It was just a crazy, crazy race overall. Winning all three races and this race in particular through all of those conditions, it was very nice, and I was very proud and happy.

“Normally in Formula Regional, you never do a pitstop so after the second stop I was down the order behind the Safety Car, so it was quite a good comeback.

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“Especially with the conditions as they were, I was stressing a bit on the grid. Mainly before the race, I stress a little bit because I overthink things sometimes, but once the race is going, I don’t think about anything. I’m just focused on what I need to improve lap by lap. But I remember before this race, I was overthinking on the grid because we had to make this choice between slicks or going on wets. We chose to go on the wets and that was the wrong choice for the conditions, but everyone did the wrong choice, so it was ok. I received a radio message too late, so I did an extra lap on wet tyres, so it was really tricky, quite a stressful situation but we managed to handle it.

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“I remember I was going out the pits along with Gianluca Petecof, he’d undercut me and saw him on track with the slick tyres and knew I had to chase him down like crazy. I remember going back onto the track and braking for Turn 1, the track was fully wet and the rain was coming. I saw Petecof on the grass and in the gravel, everyone was struggling so much on the slick tyres. It was funny but so hard to manage in the cockpit.

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“I knew I could make it back through the field. The day before I took a 10-second time penalty because of a yellow flag that I didn’t see, the boards weren’t obvious like they are in F2. It’s also tricky at a track like Mugello because the flags are very far away from the track so you really need to focus on them and when you’re in a section of track like Arrabbiata 1 and 2, it’s really tricky to see the flags. I had the penalty and managed to pull the gap and win in the wet.

“So, when it was wet on the next day, I still had hope. Obviously, you know it will be a lot of overtaking, 13 cars ahead and the level was very high. It was not easy, but I still had the small belief.

“The race was so crazy I just enjoyed every overtake. I did a few around the outside and they were all so close to the limit, it was really good.

“I was really happy after this race. Even with not the best strategy, the car was performing like crazy and we were really strong, but going from P13 to P1, it’s not everyday you do something like this. At the same time, I was focused on the race the next day, I wanted to win all the races that weekend and it gave me a small bit of pressure to do the perfect weekend. You rarely make it in junior categories like that. In the end we did well. It was a tricky race the next day, huge fight with Petecof and he put me under a lot of pressure the whole race. We managed to win too. I was really happy.”