The Scuderia Ferrari team had a disastrous qualifying session at the 2020 Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom circuit. Both the drivers did not make it into the top ten shootout of the final qualifying session. Charles Leclerc qualified in eleventh position and will have the advantage of starting on a free choice of tyres for the race on Sunday. Sebastian Vettel will start in fifteenth position after he crashed in the second qualifying session and brought out the red flag.
Leclerc was understandably disappointed by the result and said: “We definitely had the pace to do something good, much better than expected. Unfortunately, we missed our chance, so I’m pretty disappointed, but that’s life. It is frustrating that we didn’t make it to Q3 because I really believe that we had the potential to go through today.
“From the radio communications, I thought I had no margin to cross the line to start the fast lap so I pushed on the out lap and started my quick lap very close to Kvyat. There was actually a bit more time available, but we didn’t exploit that, so we need to improve in that area. We are starting 11th with a free choice of tyres. I hope that we can benefit from this. The race is tomorrow, points are scored tomorrow and I will give it my all.”
Vettel who has struggled to make it to the second part of qualification (Q2) in recent races made it into Q2 only to end up in the barriers with a heavy crash. The German described the crash and said: “When I crashed I was trying to improve my time. I hadn’t had a good first sector so I was pushing. It seems that I was going too quickly and so I lost the car. It had already happened in turn 2 and then it happened again in turn 4. I tried to avoid the impact, but I couldn’t catch it.
“Compared to the morning session, the track was quite different during qualifying and I struggled a bit more. I’m sorry to have made extra work for the team, but at least I think the car can be fixed.”
Laurent Mekies, the Sporting Director of the team, was unhappy about the outcome of the qualifying session and said: “We’re unhappy about qualifying for various reasons. Sebastian crashed, fortunately emerging unscathed, but the impact with the barrier did considerable damage to the car, which will require a lot of work by the mechanics to repair it.
“Charles should have been able to get into Q3 but he had a very hectic time in the final part of Q2. In a strange situation like this, it’s difficult for all the drivers to get a clean lap and in fact, only four of them managed to improve their time in the final two minutes. Charles managed to start his lap in time, but unfortunately there was not enough of a gap to the car in front and he was unable to improve. For our part, in future, we will try and do a better job of evaluating the available time gap.
“Tomorrow’s race will be long and demanding from many points of view and anything could happen. We will do our utmost to score as many points as possible.”
The Italian team will hope that both the drivers can progress forward with a mix of strategy and performance and salvage some points for the team.