Leclerc on “bittersweet” P2: “I’m never happy when I’m second”

Spread the love

Just like in 2022, Ferrari will start the Austrian Grand Prix from P2 and P3 on the grid. Charles Leclerc missed out on pole position by only 0.048s, whereas Carlos Sainz Jr had ended Q2 in second place behind Max Verstappen, for a very consistent run from both drivers.

In spite of a great performance, Leclerc wasn’t completely pleased with his result, as he said after the end of the session, although he was very thankful to the team for getting the upgrades on the car sooner than expected:

“I’m never happy when I’m second, I’m only happy when I’m first, and today we missed pole position by very little. But to be honest we also need to be realistic, and looking at our season this is probably the best qualifying we have had apart from Baku, of course, when we were ahead of everyone.

“The team has done an incredible job, trying to bring this upgrade as early as possible into the season, and I think this has helped us so far, now we need to confirm that in the race. It’s bittersweet, very close to Max but just not enough, which is frustrating.”

Asked if only one practise session was enough to understand if the upgrades brought by the Italian Scuderia in Barcelona and Montreal, Leclerc admitted that he had positive feedback, but that the actual race pace improvements will be clear on Sunday, considering the rather different weather conditions forecasted for tomorrow:

“The feeling is pretty good, it was good in Montreal, but this really is the big question mark that we need to answer. I think we’ll see it tomorrow already with the sprint qualy, but obviously tomorrow might rain, so difficult to see anything.

“But in the race on Sunday that’s the answer we want to try and have, and see wheter we really did a step forward in the race especially.

“We will give it all as always. Today we were very close from pole, tomorrow probably in very different conditions with the rain around, but we will do our best to this time try and have the pole, and then we will see,” he concluded, strongly focused on the Sprint day ahead of him and definitely looking forward to get his second sprint race podium of the season.

Photo credits: Scuderia Ferrari

Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, was satisfied with his P3, even if the track limits issue he suffered from in Q2 forced him to use up another fresh set of soft tyres, as he said in the post-qualifying interview, answering if he was let down by the fact that he had not managed to score a front row:

“A little bit, but I was also a bit thrown off, you know, by track limits in Q2, I actually had to run again, I was ok with track limits but we played it safe and used an extra set, which maybe threw mw a bit off and it was not ideal, but it worked.

“I was feeling strong with the car, I was feeling fast all day, which is a good carry over from Canada, now we are going to focus on putting in another strong day for tomorrow, but at least for Sunday P3 is s good place to start.”

The Spanish driver highlighted the important role the upgrades brought in the last race had in improving Ferrari’s speed and pace, especially in areas where they had struggled earlier such as high speed corners:

“It does feel quite a step better in the high speed corners, which was our main limitation in Barcelona, it looks like we have done a step at least in those kind of speeds, now obviously we will need to see our race pace, which we know it can vary from track to track, and we will make sure to try and get the best possible race, but also knowing that its’ going to be tougher in the race than how it went in quali today.”

Asked if he felt he had a chance to achieve an even better starting position for the Sprint race tomorrow, the 2022 Silverstone GP winner wasn’t sure, as in normal running conditions he will have tyre disadvantage. As per the new Shootout format rules debuted in Baku, all drivers in Q3 have to run with soft tyres, and Sainz has already used up all his sets, but he is hopeful for rain:

“Well if the conditions are mixed yes, if it’s dry I have used all my six sets of softs due to my track limits issues today, so if I get to Q3 I will used a scrubbed [set of tyres] instead of a new, which will definitely put me a bit on the backfoot compared to the guys who have saved a new set.

“So unfortunately that’s the situation, which is also not deserved because as I said we didn’t do track limits in Q2, but it is what it is, and hopefully its mixed conditions and we can fight in equal consitions to everyone else,” he concluded.