Leclerc overcomes brake issue to claim third Q3 appearance
In what’s turning into one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory, Charles Leclerc made it into Q3 for the third time in four races in Germany on Saturday. That was despite his Sauber giving him cause for concern in Hockenheim's heavy braking zones...
Leclerc finished qualifying in P9, ahead of the Force India of Sergio Perez and after making it through Q2 with a lap nearly half a second quicker than his more experienced team mate Marcus Ericsson.
But although the Monegasque driver looked rapid out on track, Leclerc confirmed afterwards that all was not rosy with the brakes on his C37 – not ideal at a track that's notoriously hard on the anchors.
“We had some big issues on the brakes,” Leclerc told reporters. “When I was braking, the car was going to the right. That was not easy to do a [fast] lap like this, but I did and I think we maxed out with P9 so very happy with today.”
Leclerc had another F1 accolade earlier in the day, claiming his first ever fastest time in a practice session during FP3. And although the torrents of rain that fell during that session meant that the running was largely meaningless, Leclerc admitted that he’d enjoyed playing around in the wet.
“While this morning was not so representative, it is nice to drive on the wet for the first proper time,” he said. “I love [the track]. The first corner and Turn 12 are very challenging for us as drivers, and it feels good in the car.”
Leclerc was keen for his qualifying performance not be the high point of his weekend, however, and felt that there was pace enough in the Ferrari-engined Sauber to take the fight to the Haas and Renault cars in front of him during Sunday’s race – just as he did at Silverstone two weeks ago before an incorrectly fitted wheel saw him retiring from the race.
“Our quali pace is good, but our race pace looked actually quite strong also,” he said. “Hopefully we can have a similar race in terms of pace as Silverstone.”
Leclerc will start Sunday's Hockenheim race four places ahead of team mate Ericsson - who was lucky to escape a trip into the gravel in Q2 - and will be looking to match or better his best Grand Prix result to date, the sixth place he achieved in Azerbaijan.