Saudi Arabian GP | Red Bull is “really on another planet”, says Leclerc after qualifying

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After a disastrous season-opener in Bahrain that ended with a DNF the weekend down in Saudi Arabia hadn’t kicked off in the best way for Charles Leclerc.

The Monegasque was forced to have a -yet another- new control unit fitted to his SF-23, the third one after only one race, meaning he will have to take a ten-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

During qualifying, however, he managed to put together a stunning lap – 1’28”420 – that was only 0.155s off Sergio Perez’s best time, who – with teammate Max Verstappen out of the games for an issue in Q2- took pole position in his RB19.

“On the one hand I’m really, really happy with my lap, it was really on the limit, so on that I’m very happy,” commented Leclerc at the end of the session.

“On the other hand it seems that Red Bull is really on another planet right now so we really have to work to catch up because even on a track like this, they seem to be much quicker than we are.”

For the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Max Verstappen will be starting a few places behind Charles Leclerc’s P12, as his Red Bull qualified in the 15th position.

“Tomorrow we have 10 grid places’ penalty, which puts us a little bit on the back foot, but I’ll try to do a good start,” explained Leclerc.

“It’s going to be tricky as everyone has more or less the same race pace, apart from Red Bull again that is in another league, but yeah, I will do absolutely everything to come back to the front.”

Leclerc dropping back from P2 means that it will be Fernando Alonso to start between Sergio Perez and George Russell.

With Lance Stroll taking P5 in qualifying, Leclerc also commented on the impressive pace Aston Martin has been showing so far this season saying: “It’s just a ‘thing’ now. They are just really quick. So yes, not a surprise.”