Leclerc crossed the line in fifth place, the same position he qualified. The Monegasque driver dropped away from the pack in the opening sequence of the race, but managed to reel in Sebastian Vettel towards the end, who had been passed by Max Verstappen.
Ferrari instructed the 21-year-old to stay behind Vettel as it wanted to bring the cars to the end, and even opted against pitting him for fresh tyres to have a stab at the fastest lap, which offers an extra point this year.
"I’m happy with the way he’s behaving as a team player,” said team principal Mattia Binotto.
“Not only as a driver, he’s very helpful for the team but as well he has a very bold claim to do his best, pushing hard on the engineers to try to prove himself and for a better car.
“I think if you judge the entire weekend it’s a very strong one. His qualifying wasn’t perfect, he’s aware of it, but I think he drove well also in Q1 and Q2, maybe not perfect in Q3, but generally speaking he had a very good weekend.
“I think that his second stint was strong performance as well so I’m happy with the way he’s approaching the first race and if that’s the starting point, then it’s a good starting point.”
Ferrari looked to be behind rivals Mercedes throughout the weekend, but Leclerc says there is no reason to panic after just one race.
“It was not the greatest race for me and the team, it could have been better. But on the other hand, Australia is a very strange track and that’s not a reason to panic now.
"Obviously we need to do some work because Mercedes looks very strong. But I think we are closer than what we have shown.
“I was definitely more confident in the second stint than I was on the first stint. Somehow with the Soft it was quite inconsistent, the balance, there was more wind, so might be also for this.
“The second stint was a lot better. For me the balance was predictable and I was a lot more happy with the car. But we need to get further into the data to understand exactly why that happened.”