‘I’m extremely disappointed’ says Leclerc after Q3 tyre mix-up at Interlagos
Charles Leclerc has shared his thoughts on an “extremely disappointing” qualifying session at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, after an alternate tyre strategy backfired and left him a lowly 10th on the grid for the F1 Sprint.
As the 10 remaining cars lined up at the end of the pit lane for Q3, Leclerc found himself as the only driver on intermediate tyres, with his rivals opting for soft slicks to make the most of a break in the wet-dry conditions.
Leclerc was then told by his Ferrari team to pit just as he started a timed effort on the intermediates, meaning he had to complete the rest of the lap before boxing, where he sarcastically reflected on the “beautiful” outcome.
With George Russell beaching his Mercedes in the gravel, and rain increasing again during the red flag, Leclerc’s hopes of heading out on slicks were dashed as he settled for a midfield starting position for Saturday’s 100km dash.
Asked to explain what happened in Q3, Leclerc said: “We were expecting some rain, which never came. I will speak with the team and try and understand what we can do better in those conditions. But I’m extremely disappointed.
“There was [a big opportunity for us today]. We still have the car. But now we need to get on it and do everything good for the rest of the weekend.”
With Leclerc struggling, Sainz was left to lead Ferrari’s charge in fifth position, admitting that mistakes cost him in his bid to claim pole position, which went to Haas driver Kevin Magnussen in dramatic circumstances.
Reflecting on the session, Sainz said: “[It was] crazy, absolutely crazy… with the weather, with the tyre choices, especially in Q3 – [they were] very tricky conditions.
“I tried to push a lot and probably over-pushed. I did a couple of big mistakes, big moments that probably cost me P2 or P3, but P1 today is for Kevin. I think he deserves it. I’m a big fan of him and I’m happy for him.”
With an engine penalty and grid drop for the main Grand Prix on the horizon, he added: “Tomorrow is the day to go for it, to try and finish on the podium in the Sprint quali, and get the five-place [penalty]… for the moment it’s a five-place penalty.”