Charles Leclerc will line up seventh on Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix grid, but while the Ferrari driver was happy overall with his efforts in Q3, he admitted that the deficit to midfield rival Lando Norris was significant.
The McLaren driver qualified fourth in the final shootout, 0.352s ahead of Leclerc.
“I’m happy about my lap, actually very happy with my lap,” said the Scuderia charger. “I put everything together. I did a good lap.
“I didn’t do any mistakes, put all of my best corners in one lap. But then on the other hand, when looking at the gap in between myself and Lando, I wouldn’t go as far as ‘scary’, but it’s quite a bit.”
Leclerc said that most of his deficit to Norris was suffered on the three portions of straights where the DRS is activated.
“We don’t completely understand why yet because it’s mostly where we are opening the DRS and the others seem to be a lot stronger with the DRS on,” he said.
“So it’s not in all the straights, it’s mostly in those three straights. Then overall grip, probably, a little bit, but we are not that bad in the corners actually if you compare to the others.
“We need to work hard for tomorrow. I think that our race pace is better than our quali pace this weekend, which is quite unusual.”
Read also – Norris: ‘A bit of a shock’ to be only a tenth off Hamilton
Carlos Sainz failed to make the Q3 cut and ended his day a lowly P13, having been weighed down by his one-lap pace.
But Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies explained that the team had purposefully sacrificed slightly the one-lap pace of its SF21 to focus on the car’s race trim.
“We tackled this Grand Prix with a slightly different approach to usual, working mainly towards the race after the problems we encountered last week in France,” mekies explained.
“That’s not a mitigating factor, because I don’t think we could have done much better than this, looking at the performance of our main rivals, but it is something to bear in mind when looking at today’s results.
“From what we saw yesterday, our long run pace is not bad compared to our closest competitors and we will try and exploit that tomorrow afternoon.”
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