Charles Leclerc was happy with his performance during Qualifying for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Saturday, but he was not happy with where that performance put him on the grid.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver made it through to the top ten shootout but could only qualify eighth on the grid for Sunday’s race at Silverstone, and he can only see more struggles on race day due to the aggressive downforce levels the team have adopted.
Leclerc, who finished third in the British Grand Prix last weekend, says Ferrari have made progress on the medium compound tyre this weekend but couldn’t get the soft to work properly, which made for struggles in Qualifying trim.
“I am definitely happy with the job I’ve done today, I think we extracted the maximum from the car, but it was not enough, as we are starting from P8 and I cannot be happy with that,” said Leclerc.
“So far, we have been struggling more than last week and we will be struggling a bit more in the race because of our aggressive downforce level. It’s lower than everyone else’s and will make our life difficult in terms of tyre management.
“Since yesterday we’ve made good progress on the Medium tyres that seemed very competitive today and on which we managed to get through to Q3, but as it stands, we seem to have lost something we had yesterday on the Soft tyres.
“Considering the degradation we had on the softer compound, it’s going to be a difficult race for us, more so than last Sunday.”
“I don’t think that there was any more to get out of the car” – Sebastian Vettel
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel was disgruntled following his performance in Qualifying, with the German ending up down in twelfth position when the chequered flag fell at the end of Q2.
Vettel will move up one place on the grid after Renault DP World F1 Team’s Esteban Ocon was handed a three-place grid penalty post-session, but for the German, it was a torrid session as he was 0.369 seconds away from Leclerc and out of Qualifying at the second hurdle.
“We tried a lot of things and I was happy with my laps, but I don’t think that there was any more to get out of the car today,” said Vettel. “I need more grip to go faster.
“I must congratulate my engineers for improving the car compared to last weekend, but if you look at the stopwatch there is no difference. It seems we are stuck and of course it is disappointing to be in twelfth with that gap between our two cars.
“We are where we are for a reason, we are just not fast enough. It will be difficult tomorrow to fight for points but I will do my best.”
“We have taken a step back in terms of competitiveness” – Laurent Mekies
Laurent Mekies, the Sporting Director at Ferrari, admitted it was a poor Qualifying performance for the team, and he confesses that he is expecting it to be a difficult race at Silverstone for the team on Sunday.
Mekies believes Ferrari have taken a step back in performance compared to one week ago at the same circuit, and this has meant that they have slipped back into the tight midfield battle and meant it was not possible to get both cars into the top ten shootout.
With different tyre strategies likely to play out on Sunday, Mekies says it is important Ferrari get it right and capitalise on any opportunity that may present itself to give the Scuderia a chance at good points.
“There can be no doubt this was a poor qualifying performance, given that our drivers are eighth and twelfth on the grid,” said Mekies. “On this very same track and in very similar conditions, we have taken a step back in terms of competitiveness compared to a week ago, in terms of our own performance and up against that of our main rivals this season.
“In particular, we were unable to use the softest Pirelli compound properly. Now we have to work out why, not so much for tomorrow, but for the rest of the season.
“It’s definitely going to be a difficult race, with tyre management playing a key role. Compared to a week ago, there are more strategy choices on the table, which could create more opportunities and it will be down to us to exploit them.
“What is certain is that we will do all we can to bring home the best result possible.”