“The upgrade is doing exactly what we expected” but “not enough performance” for pole in F1 Imola GP qualifying — Leclerc

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari
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It’s been a strong weekend for Charles Leclerc. He topped the timing page in both practice sessions on Friday.

After qualifying 4th before penalties for tomorrow, the 26-year-old said this track is not the most ideal one to show the updates Ferrari has brought, but he is pleased with how they are working.

“One thing that is good is that the upgrade is doing exactly what we expected, so that is always a good sign. However, on a track like this, maybe we haven’t seen yet all the benefits of the upgrade.”

Leclerc started Q1 on new medium compounds along with his teammate Sainz as the rest used soft tyres. Despite the difference, Leclerc came in P2 with a 1.15.823, only 0.061s off Verstappen.

He entered Q2 with new soft compound tyres and did a 1.15.328, finishing 2nd to Verstappen again.

In Q3, Leclerc set a time of 1.14.970, placing him P4 behind the Red Bull of Verstappen and the two McLarens.

Leclerc then inherited P3 after Piastri was issued a 3-place grid penalty for impeding the Haas of Magnussen in Q1.

Ferrari failed to make a big step in Q3 as the top 3 got out of reach.

“Just today, there wasn‘t much more in the car. FP1 and FP2 went really well however we never know what are the fuel level of the others and I think they hide their game more than we thought. And that ended up by having not enough performance in the car to do better today.”

Leclerc says that the target was pole ahead of qualifying but then realised that the Red Bulls and McLarens were faster by a marginal difference as they had hidden a bit of pace through practice, with Red Bull also improving the car massively.

“We came short of our target, which was to be on pole position. Friday was strong, but you always had the doubt of fuel levels.

“Obviously, now there are no doubts about fuel level in Quali and we are a bit further away than what we thought. but yeah I my lap was good I don’t think there was much more in it.”

The 6-time Grand Prix winner also explained that one of the main reasons for losing pole was because of difficulties in sector one that saw him lose 0.3s to Verstappen.

“It’s still very localised where we lose, especially turn two, three, for some reason. So it’s always the first few corners since two, three races.”

The Monegasque explains how the Ferrari’s race pace for tomorrow is positive and better compared to their qualifying speed. But with only one DRS zone, track position matters a lot as it is very difficult to overtake.

He also explained the importance of a good strategy around tracks like this to gain places and move them to the front.

“I think in the race we are quite strong however on a track like this track position is basically everything and especially with the reduced DRS it’s going to be even more difficult to overtake tomorrow so it’s not going to be an easy race.

“But the race pace is there. We just need a good strategy, and then we’ll see.”