RACE DEBRIEF

    It seems Charles Leclerc cannot catch a break in Formula 1 after the rookie added another mistake to his growing 2019 collection in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix...

    After lighting up the timesheets and beating team mate Sebastian Vettel on his first run in Q1, disaster struck he spun on the exit of the final corner, hitting the barriers rear wing-first.

    The Scuderia repaired his car in time to resume battle, but fourth on the grid was all he could manage as Red Bull's Max Verstappen took pole ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

    2019 Hungarian GP
    HUNGARORING, HUNGARY - AUGUST 03: Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, leaves the garage during the Hungarian GP at Hungaroring on August 03, 2019 in Hungaroring, Hungary. (Photo by Mark Sutton / Sutton Images)

    The error has not been in isolation for Leclerc, who admitted after the session he was fortunate to continue. The rookie crashed out in Baku qualifying when favourite for pole, while he also slipped up at Germany as he skated off on a soaking wet Hockenheim as he chased Lewis Hamilton for the lead of the race. On both occasions he was forced to walk away from the SF90, but not today.

    “I’ve been very lucky,” admitted Leclerc. “I was very lucky to go again. I have to thank my team very much for what they have done, but it was a completely unnecessary mistake at that point of qualy.

    “That’s two mistakes in two Grands Prix. The first one wasn’t acceptable, but this one is definitely not acceptable. If I’d have stayed in the wall it would have been a lot worse. I need to learn from these mistakes. This is the second one in qualifying at an unnecessary time, I need to understand how to work on that… It’s completely my fault, I will work for it.”

    Leclerc still managed to outqualify his team mate for the fifth consecutive weekend as both Ferrari’s struggled on a circuit they mastered in 2017. Leclerc was half a second down on Verstappen, with Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel just three-hundredths of a second behind in P5.

    2019 Hungarian GP
    HUNGARORING, HUNGARY - AUGUST 03: Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90 during the Hungarian GP at Hungaroring on August 03, 2019 in Hungaroring, Hungary. (Photo by Zak Mauger / LAT Images)

    Red Bull have been in tremendous form in recent races and Verstappen will be looking to secure the team's first win at the Hungaroring since 2011 with a lights-to-flag victory.

    Why does Vettel think Red Bull, the team with which he won four world championships, were so strong in Hungary? “Downforce,” said Vettel. “I don’t think they found anything, I think they were quick already in the weeks before coming here. Obviously they do have a disadvantage on the engine side but here the engine is not so important."

    It was a completely unnecessary mistake at that point of qualy

    Charles Leclerc

    He added: “We knew they would be strong, we knew Mercedes would be strong because they have the best package. Obviously we can’t be happy to be sitting further back and not able to intervene in that fight.”

    Ferrari are desperate for a strong result after failing to win a race so far in 2019. Vettel is the best placed of the two drivers in the overall standings in fourth place, 21 points below Verstappen in third and a full 84 behind championship leader Hamilton.

    At this stage last season the German was second in the standings, 17 points behind Hamilton. The team will be aiming to make inroads into those margins come race day on Sunday.

    Charles Leclerc: 'Happy with what we've done' today despite Q1 crash