RACE DEBRIEF

    Charles Leclerc finished second in qualifying by 0.779s to Max Verstappen, and Ferrari’s championship leader was left ruing a lost chance at pole position on an incident-packed Friday evening at Imola.

    The Ferrari driver managed to top FP1 on Friday, but in Q3 Valtteri Bottas crashed and then the rain began to increase in intensity. After that stoppage, Leclerc was left with one last chance to overhaul Verstappen – but track conditions proved challenging and Lando Norris effectively ended qualifying early by spinning out at the very end.

    READ MORE: ‘The car surprised me’ says Sainz, as he reflects on costly Imola qualifying crash

    “Yes, I’m not happy,” he said. “Obviously I think we had the pace – we were very strong all session. Q1, Q2 was all about trying to put a lap together to go to Q3 and then push a bit more, but it was a very tricky session overall, and then in… Q3 it was all about putting everything together.

    “This is why it is frustrating for me, because when it [counted], in Q3, I made the wrong choice, but it’s life: we will learn from it, and at the end P2 is not a disaster. Everything to play for tomorrow and after, and tomorrow and we will give everything,” said the Monegasque.

    Charles Leclerc 'not happy' with P2 at Imola qualifying

    Leclerc explained that he regretted his choice of strategy in Q3, which saw him abort a second chance at pole position – which Verstappen had taken to go top before the red flags came out.

    “I did one lap, which was strong, and then I decided to abort the second one just to prepare the tyres for the last two, because warm-up is quite an [important] thing and I wanted to have the last two laps at the end of the session. But that never happened, because there was a red flag.

    READ MORE: 'That's what we like' – Verstappen pleased to take pole in 'hectic, long qualifying'

    “It’s like this, but Max did an incredible job, and fair play to him; P2 is not that bad at the end and it’s disappointing because obviously I wanted to be on pole – but it’s the way it is.”

    He’s still starting second for the Sprint, which dictates the grid for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – and Leclerc is daring to dream of a home win once again.

    “Well, yes – I like to dream – but we need to focus on our own job, and not try to overdo things. I keep saying it, but I think it’s very important this weekend and yes, let’s keep pushing. But for now, we have the potential to do so.”

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