Charles Leclerc was one of the stars of Qualifying on Saturday, with the Monegasque racer set to start the British Grand Prix from fourth on the grid.
Scuderia Ferrari have struggled for pace so far in 2020, but Leclerc performance admirably on Saturday, getting through to the top ten shootout on the medium Pirelli tyre and then going on to secure an excellent second row slot.
“A much better quali than we had hoped for,” said Leclerc. “I am very very happy with the job we have done and with my final lap, where I think I got everything together and the car was feeling pretty good in terms of balance.
“I don’t think there was anything more to extract from the car and I am very pleased with P4. Also, I had a great lap in Q2 on the Medium tyres, which got us through to Q3. It was a really good decision!”
Leclerc admits the one-lap pace has been stronger than the longer runs this weekend at Silverstone, so he is expecting a tough afternoon to come on Sunday, particularly with a number of strong drivers and teams around and behind him.
“We have been struggling yesterday with race pace so realistically it’s going to be difficult tomorrow,” continued Leclerc. “But we have changed the car a little bit overnight, which didn’t affect our quali pace apparently, and with a good strategy, I hope we’ll manage to get some advantage from our tyre choice.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully we can score some good points.”
“I have struggled a little bit the whole weekend” – Sebastian Vettel
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s difficult weekend continued, although he was able to make it through to Q3, albeit on the soft tyre compared to Leclerc’s medium tyre.
The German missed out on running on Friday morning with an intercooler issue, while he suffered with braking problems during the Friday afternoon and Saturday morning sessions. Qualifying was the first time he broke into the top ten all weekend long.
He potentially could have started higher up but his fastest time in the session was deleted for exceeding track limits.
“I have struggled a little bit the whole weekend so far and qualifying was a bit up and down,” said Vettel. “It was not ideal, as I found it difficult to get the car working for me, even though it was not too bad. I had trouble getting into a rhythm.
“So, it was not a good session and although we made it to Q3, we were not on the ideal tyre and didn’t make enough progress.”
“Charles’ performance was magisterial” – Laurent Mekies
Laurent Mekies, the Sporting Director at Ferrari, heaped praise on Leclerc for getting onto the second row despite the car not being a front-running contender, as well as for getting through to Q3 on the medium tyre.
However, Mekies acknowledges the pace of the car is not where they want it to be, particularly when they look at the gap between them and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team at the very front of the field.
“It was a very intense qualifying that ended with one driver fourth and the other tenth,” said Mekies. “Charles’ performance was magisterial, not just to get on the second row, the best we have done during this difficult start to the season, but also because he made the cut to the final part of qualifying on the Medium tyres, which is the best choice for the first stint of the race.
“Sebastian has had a rather troubled weekend so far and all the time he lost because of various technical issues certainly didn’t put him in the best possible shape for qualifying. Tenth place is essentially a logical consequence of that.
“Of course, we can’t be satisfied with this result, especially when one looks at the gap to pole position. We know we have a lot of work to do to close this gap and that’s what we are working on. Tomorrow’s race will be difficult, especially when it comes to tyre management. As usual, our aim is to bring home as many points as possible.”