Leclerc expects a 'tight challenge' from Red Bull as Ferrari aim to hold off rivals from front row in Miami
Ferrari ensured a one-two in qualifying to lock out the front row for Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix. But pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and P2 starter Carlos Sainz are expecting Red Bull to make their job tough on Sunday.
In a nailbiting Saturday qualifying session, Leclerc clinched pole by 0.190s over team mate Sainz as Max Verstappen made a mistake in his final effort and dropped down to third for the start of Sunday’s race. Ferrari therefore have a prime opportunity to win the first-ever Miami GP and consolidate their championship lead.
Could Red Bull’s pace, particularly in the straights, prove a worrying challenge for the Scuderia?
“Well, yes,” agreed Leclerc, “they are extremely quick in the straight line; we are quick in the corners and it will be a tight challenge tomorrow.
“If they are close to us then it’s going to be very difficult, but we’ve got this advantage in the corners, which hopefully they’ll be too far [away] to then have enough of an opportunity to overtake us in the straights,” he added.
Leclerc was further encouraged by the all-round performance of his Ferrari F1-75 and the fact that Sainz made it a Ferrari one-two in qualifying.
“It’s definitely better,” continued Leclerc. “Yes, I mean both cars are very competitive, so Carlos and I are very competitive. So, it’s great for the team and yes, we’ll push to try and finish in the same positions tomorrow.
“It is a very strong package that we have, it works in more or less every condition since the beginning of the season so that is a good sign for the future. As I’ve said many times, the upgrades this year will be very very important. We’ve had a few here that went in the right direction and hopefully we’ll have a few more throughout the season to stay on top.”
“Good progress: even though today I was carrying a bit the weight of yesterday’s crash, I managed to push the car to its limit in some of the corners and put together a decent quali,” he said. “So I’m not going to complain. I’m still not there and I think it’s not going to be just a matter of one more race – it’s going to be very progressive through the season.”
The Spanish driver explained that he was expecting the lack of long-run practice to be his biggest challenge, but exuded confidence over the F1-75’s pace around the Miami International Autodrome.
“It is going to be an interesting day with everything that is going on this weekend. I haven’t done any long runs yet, I haven’t had the fuel in the car and tried that, so tomorrow’s laps to the grid will be the first time to have a feel.
“It could be quite challenging but at the same time, I’m feeling confident with the car. The car is really good to drive around here so I think we can do a good job.”