After securing the fourth position on the starting grid for the British Grand Prix, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has revealed that his team did not expect to end today’s qualifying session towards the sharp end of the field.
Following Ferrari’s disastrous start to the season, Charles Leclerc delivered a stellar performance today, making no mistakes while squeezing everything out of the car to line up on the second row. Despite suffering from his underpowered car, the two-time grand prix winner managed to get through to Q3 on Pirelli’s medium compound, a feat that was unimaginable at the first three race weekends.
The Scuderia’s Sporting Director Laurent Mekies was taken aback by Leclerc’s magical performance during the qualifying session.
"It was a very intense qualifying that ended with one driver fourth and the other tenth. Charles’ performance was magisterial, not just to get on the second row, the best we have done during this difficult start to the season, but also because he made the cut to the final part of qualifying on the Medium tyres, which is the best choice for the first stint of the race.
The Frenchman said that Ferrari is aware of the fact that it needs to get closer to the dominant Mercedes team.
"Sebastian has had a rather troubled weekend so far and all the time he lost because of various technical issues certainly didn’t put him in the best possible shape for qualifying. Tenth place is essentially a logical consequence of that. Of course, we can’t be satisfied with this result, especially when one looks at the gap to pole position.
"We know we have a lot of work to do to close this gap and that’s what we are working on. Tomorrow’s race will be difficult, especially when it comes to tyre management. As usual, our aim is to bring home as many points as possible."
Yesterday’s practice sessions indicated that Ferrari is in a better shape than it had hoped ahead of the race weekend. The Silverstone track was expected to highlight the SF1000’s main weakness which is its lack of straight-line speed due to Ferrari’s engine deficit to its rivals. In order to trim down drag and increase top end speed, Ferrari has approached the weekend with a radical setup direction, bringing an unusually low-downforce rear wing to Silverstone.
With Leclerc not feeling comfortable with the new package on Friday, Ferrari has made a few adjustments to the car’s setup for Saturday. The Monégasque was delighted with today’s results, but he still has some concerns about his car’s race pace.
"A much better quali than we had hoped for. I am very very happy with the job we have done and with my final lap, where I think I got everything together and the car was feeling pretty good in terms of balance. I don’t think there was anything more to extract from the car and I am very pleased with P4. Also, I had a great lap in Q2 on the Medium tyres, which got us through to Q3. It was a really good decision.
"We have been struggling yesterday with race pace so realistically it’s going to be difficult tomorrow, but we have changed the car a little bit overnight, which didn’t affect our quali pace apparently, and with a good strategy, I hope we’ll manage to get some advantage from our tyre choice. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully we can score some good points,” said Leclerc.