Leclerc pledges ‘full attack’ after losing out to ‘exceptional’ Perez pole lap
Charles Leclerc lost out on pole position by 0.025s to the Red Bull of Sergio Perez, but from P2 on the grid the Ferrari driver is aiming for a second consecutive victory as he chases success in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Monegasque driver, who took the win, pole and fastest lap in last weekend’s Bahrain opener, saw the P1 grid slot snatched away by Perez – who ended a record 215-race wait for his maiden pole position with a scintillating performance.
Leclerc applauded the Mexican’s flying lap but conceded that Ferrari had “plenty to learn” after missing out on pole.
“I’m a bit disappointed. Only two hundredths, it’s so close. I am pretty sure Checo’s lap is exceptional, I mean the last sector, pretty sure he took a lot of risk and was rewarded by it, and this is how it works on those city tracks. I think on our side there is plenty to learn from this qualifying.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Leclerc added: “Yes, it is full attack, as always. The race is tomorrow… so hopefully we can have a better day tomorrow.”
The championship leader did however concede he didn’t understand where the narrow deficit to Perez had come from.
“For some reasons we were quicker on the used tyres than the new tyres, so we need to understand why, and also lacking a little bit of slipstream in the last run of Q3,” said Leclerc. “And everything makes a difference, but that does not change anything on how amazing Checo has been today.”
As for team mate Carlos Sainz, in P3 despite topping Q1 and Q2, he was less optimistic of his hopes for victory and echoed Leclerc’s consternation at the Scuderia’s lack of pace compared to the Red Bull on new soft compound tyres.
“Well, everyone improved a lot on Q3, and I did too, but in the end my main limitation today was the new tyres; I just couldn’t make them work,” began the Spaniard. “I did my fastest lap on a used tyre which is something that you never see in other circuits but for some reason in our car, in our team, the new tyre is not working well.
“It doesn’t look pretty – we don’t know exactly [why]. We did some runs in FP3, but they were short, they were on a soft, which is a tyre that is not very good for the long run, so I think we need to wait and see for tomorrow, but Red Bull looked quick on Friday for sure,” added a concerned Sainz.
Ferrari missed out on their longer run programme during the representative FP2 session on Friday after both drivers brushed the walls, so when it comes to race pace, they are an unknown quantity heading into Sunday.