Australian Grand Prix – While things came together for Charles Leclerc in Q3, on the other side of the garage anything that could go wrong did.
For the most part of qualifying around the Albert Park circuit, Leclerc was in the mix with his teammate, Carlos Sainz, and the two Red Bull but a tenth or so off the fastest time. The Monegasque driver said that it’s never been a track that was particularly suited to his style of driving, but everything just worked out perfectly in Q3.
“It felt good,” Leclerc said after the session. “I mean, even more because it’s a track where I’ve always struggled in the past as a driver. I don’t know, it probably doesn’t fit me as well. And this weekend we really worked hard. It was a bit messy for the three free practice sessions for me, I managed to do some good laps, but not everything together. And in Q3, I managed to put everything together. So it feels great. Very happy to be starting on pole tomorrow.
“I took quite a bit of risk,” he explained. “Especially in Turn 6, which was quite tricky. I wasn’t really on it during qualifying on this corner, just doing some mistakes, and then in the last Q3 laps, I managed to make it right. And I think I gained quite a bit on myself compared to the other laps.”
Looking ahead to the race, Leclerc is unsure what will happen as, based on the practices, they had expected the Red Bulls to outpace them in qualifying and so now anything could happen.
“The Red Bulls were very quick in FP2 during the long fuel run, but to be honest, we were again quite surprised by our pace in qualifying. So everything is possible tomorrow. We just need to do a good start. And then hopefully we can keep that first position.”
Sainz on the other hand felt hard done by with the Red Flag in Q3, the Ferrari driver was just about to finish his flying lap when the session was stopped which meant his time was nullified.
It didn’t stop there for the Spaniard as, when the session resumed, his car wouldn’t start so when he did eventually get back on track there wasn’t enough time left to prepare the car and as a result he had a “terrible lap”.
“We had the pace this qualifying,” Sainz said. “But for some reason in Q3 everything went wrong. We got the red flag in the first lap of Q3 which meant that we couldn’t put a banker in and then on the second lap of Q3 I was about to go out with Charles and my car wouldn’t start.
“The car just wouldn’t switch on and we went out with a three minute delay which meant that I couldn’t prepare my tyres and I did the whole lap sliding like crazy. It was a terrible lap so just a horrible Q3 and we need to understand what happened.”
Sainz said that he will be trying to do as good a recovery race as he can tomorrow, but doesn’t believe the track updates will have improved overtaking opportunities.
“I think we’re going to try and recover as much as possible,” he added. “But we are also honest with ourselves that without the fourth DRS zone the circuit hasn’t changed that much and it will be tricky to overtake, but I will give it our best shot.”