Leclerc secures P2 in storm-hit Q3 at F1 São Paulo GP; “unlucky” Sainz disappointed with P8

Spread the love

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc managed to secure a front row start for Sunday’s race shortly before a storm descended on the Interlagos circuit, putting an early end to the qualifying session.

The sky began to darken rapidly as Q3 got underway, which meant it was crucial for the drivers to set a representative time before the inevitable downpour.

Leclerc was one of the drivers to get it right out on his crucial run, despite the increasingly difficult conditions and the handling of the car.

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

By the time the red flag was thrown, the storm was already wreaking havoc on the circuit. As a result, the top three were ushered to the Safety Car garage for their parc fermé interviews.

Leclerc didn’t hide his surprise, both at the intensity of the weather conditions, and at just how strong his representative lap turned out to be, guaranteeing the Monégasque a spot on the front row.

“To be honest, today was… in my whole career, I’ve never experienced something like that.”

“[Qualifying] was good. Q1 was really good, we only put on one set of new softs, and we were straight away doing a really good job with the lap, the car was feeling great. We had done quite a bit of change since FP1, and it went in the right direction, so I was happy.”

“In Q2 I just knew that I had to put a lap on the board, which we did, and that was good enough.

“And then in Q3… I’ve never experienced that in my career. The wind change was crazy. There was absolutely no grip from Sector 2 onwards, which was extremely confusing because you had no idea where the balance would be in the corner you would get into, and it made things very interesting,” he elaborated in the press conference afterwards.

“Luckily I kept it more or less tidy. Even though I was doubting coming in at the end of the lap. It felt so bad that I was like, ‘okay, this is not good enough, I am P10 for sure.’ But luckily I wasn’t, and second place is good.”

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Asked whether he felt Ferrari could’ve been in the fight for pole had it not been for the inclement weather that cut the session short, Leclerc admitted he wasn’t sure he could’ve challenged Verstappen either way.

“I don’t know. I feel like with the lower temperatures in Q2 we maybe struggled a little bit more, so I don’t think it would have been enough for pole, but I think it would’ve been close.”

“We didn’t do a lot of long runs, as always with this format, we don’t have time to do enough long runs, so it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen on Sunday. But one thing for sure is that it’s our weakness, and we need to work on that, so we’ll try and prepare for Sunday and obviously tomorrow in the best way possible.

It was a different story for Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz, who only managed to qualify P8 in the storm-hit session. Speaking to the media after qualifying, he expressed his disappointment, believing the conditions belied his actual pace.

“We got unlucky there with the weather,”

“We were one of the last cars to leave the pits. With the cold tyres, and the temperature dropping and the rain coming, the gusts of wind…We were just unlucky today because the pace in Q2 wasn’t too bad. A bit disappointed obviously because we were very late to go out and we missed the chance to do a good lap.”