RACE DEBRIEF

    After two consecutive pole positions – in Monaco and Azerbaijan – Charles Leclerc says Ferrari are expecting to "struggle" this weekend in France as F1 returns to a more conventional circuit, following two street track races.

    A shock pole position at home in Monaco was followed by disappointment for Leclerc when he retired on the way to the grid – but he followed it up with another astonishing pole position in Baku. There, he fell down the order, but only to P4, in an incredible contest.

    READ MORE: Disappointed Binotto says Ferrari were ‘expecting better’ from Baku after second straight pole position

    But ahead of the French Grand Prix, Leclerc said he is not expecting a repeat performance of Baku and Monaco at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

    He explained: “I think it’ll be a bit back to reality. That’s been two weekends: in Monaco we did not expect to be that competitive, in Baku we definitely did not expect it, and we expected to be back to reality in Baku – but actually I think this weekend is unfortunately going to be the weekend where we will be back to reality and where we’ll be struggling a bit more, compared to the last two weekends.”

    Charles Leclerc says Ferrari will go back to 'back to reality' at French GP

    Of course, Ferrari are still the third-place team heading into Paul Ricard and Leclerc maintained that he wasn’t expecting the Scuderia to fall too far down the order – just further away from Red Bull and Mercedes.

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    “Well, I really hope that it won’t be outside the points, but no, I feel like we are going to probably be the fourth, third team fighting with McLaren, AlphaTauri, always these same teams we are fighting with. But with a bit more gap to the top teams, which are Mercedes and Red Bull,” he clarified.

    As for team mate Carlos Sainz, himself a podium finisher in Monaco, the Spaniard echoed Leclerc’s comments but said his focus was on getting to grips with the Ferrari and not where the Scuderia sit in a congested midfield battle.

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    Sainz is 10 points behind Leclerc after the brace of street races

    “No, I think it’s going to be back to where we are expecting to be pretty much every weekend – a bit like Barcelona in a way, where we know we were competitive but not at a level of the last few races – so let’s see,” he said.

    READ MORE: ‘I’m very angry with myself’ says Sainz, as he explains Lap 11 error that compromised his race in Baku

    “I’m looking forward to it; I’m more focused on myself rather than car performance right now to be honest, because I think there’s a lot more to get from myself to putting a weekend together. I’m not focusing too much on the others,” Sainz surmised.

    Ferrari are just two points ahead of rivals McLaren ahead of the French Grand Prix while Lando Norris has already pinpointed the key differences between the two teams' performance.