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P8 a 'realistic picture' of Ferrari performance says Leclerc after Silverstone qualifying

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Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco steers his car during the qualifying session at the 70th

Charles Leclerc’s P8 qualification for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix has brought the Ferrari driver back to reality after a podium at the British Grand Prix last time out, and the Scuderia driver said that eighth place represents just where Ferrari are right now.

Leclerc snuck onto the podium last time at Silverstone after Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz hit tyre issues late in the race - but called it a “lucky” finish. Asked whether he was surprised to be down in eighth on Saturday after last week’s trip to the podium, Leclerc replied: “Surprised? No, no.

READ MORE: Verstappen pinning hopes on smooth start after tyre gamble that's caught rivals’ attention

“I think it’s a bit more [of a] realistic picture for us to be honest – we have been struggling more than last week here, especially with the softer tyres.

“We seem to be more aggressive on them and we don’t even manage to finish the full lap in Q3 with these soft tyres – they are dropping off a lot in the last sector and [we] lost quite a lot of lap time there so yeah. Not much we can do for now, it’s like this.”

Charles Leclerc: Ferrari 'need to do better'

Softer tyres may have a higher degree of degradation, but they could force teams to pit twice to finish the race – which adds more room for error and therefore a chance for Leclerc to maximise his P8 starting position. However, he played down his hopes of staging a coup on Sunday.

READ MORE: 'He did a better job' – Hamilton praises polesitter Bottas as he focuses on making amends in race

“The strategy can be a [crucial] thing but maybe we shouldn’t expect a podium for us tomorrow to be completely honest. I expect us to struggle tomorrow. Seeing our weaknesses to manage the tyre and seeing the degradation we’ve had with these softer compounds I think it is going to be difficult,” he concluded.

Leclerc has new power unit parts – including an internal combustion engine – for the race as Ferrari changed as a precaution given team mate Sebastian Vettel’s issue in FP2. Vettel, who also has new power unit components, was exasperated after qualifying 12th – though he starts 11th on Sunday thanks to Esteban Ocon’s post-qualifying penalty.

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