Leclerc says saving a set of new tyres the reason for not doing a second Q3 run

Spread the love

By Connor Bacon

Charles Leclerc exited the cockpit of the SF-23 during the final part of Q3, denying us a chance to see him fight for pole position with Max Verstappen.

He finished the session third, 0.292s off the reigning champion and behind Sergio Perez who made it a Red Bull 1-2.

While it was speculated a technical issue halted the Monegasques’ hopes, he revealed that because Ferrari are on the “backfoot” compared to Red Bull in terms of race pace and tyre deg, they decided to carry over a set of fresh softs to open the strategy and allow them to have the chance to attack.

“I think we were in a fight for pole, which was a good surprise,” said Leclerc when asked how Qualifying went. “I did not expect that after testing and after the free practices that were a little bit difficult.

“We managed to find that pace for the quali lap, which was great, however, we need to keep in our mind that in the race run, we seem to be a little bit on the backfoot compared to Red Bull.

“I think we are in a better place starting third with new tyres than starting first with old [tyres] or a bit further up.

“I don’t know if we would have gotten pole or not, but it would have been close.”

Leclerc reiterated that he did not expect Ferrari to be this close after struggling with the balance of the car throughout testing, due to the team giving him experimental set-ups that often lead to understeer.

He said: “We are much closer than what we expected, which is good for the future.

“I think it makes Formula 1 more exciting, so, I’m looking forward to the rest of the races.”

He noted that the prancing horse’s “weakness” in terms of deg, an issue that hampered the team throughout 2022, will be helped by the fresh tyre but doesn’t know how that will change heading into the future.

“We seem to have a weakness for now. Having a new tyre will help us tomorrow.

“But I don’t know how much that picture will change with that, but it’s going in the right direction at least.”

Photo: Scuderia Ferrari