Charles Leclerc says he enjoyed the Sprint Qualifying race on Saturday afternoon at Silverstone, with the Monegasque racer enjoying the fact he was able to run flat out for the whole seventeen laps without having to worry about tyre conservation or fuel saving.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver was able to finish fourth on Saturday to give him the same starting position for Sunday’s full-length British Grand Prix, and he will take encouragement that he was not too far behind Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Valtteri Bottas at the chequered flag.
Leclerc was around three seconds behind Bottas at the end, but well clear of fifth placed Lando Norris, and it gives the Ferrari driver a great shot at scoring good points on Sunday.
“I really enjoyed Sprint Qualifying today,” said Leclerc. “Driving flat out for 17 laps is different to what we are used to, and I had a lot of fun.
“One big difference is that you don’t have to think about saving tyres and can just go for it. I didn’t take any risks but had there been a good opportunity to gain a position, I would have taken it.
“It was a bit lonely from my point of view, but in a good way because I could keep up with the pace of the car ahead without it pulling way too much.”
Leclerc says he has enjoyed the way the weekend format has been run at Silverstone, with Friday practice purely aimed at preparing for Qualifying, while Saturday’s morning session was aimed at setting up for Sprint Qualifying and the race.
“Overall, I have liked the format of the weekend so far,” he added. “It gives each day something special to look forward to, especially on the Friday, where you have more to gain with qualifying than you would on a normal weekend. I think it makes things more exciting, for us as well as the fans.
“The run on the Medium tyres was quite representative. Even if the fuel level was not the same as it will be for the race, it gave us a good picture of the balance. There is a lot of data to analyse tonight and to learn from for tomorrow.”
“More than a Sprint Qualifying it was a ‘comeback stint’ for me” – Carlos Sainz Jr.
Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. ended the day in eleventh place after contact with George Russell on the opening lap left the Spaniard nineteenth.
Russell was handed a post-race penalty for the incident at the end of the Wellington Straight, which means Sainz will start the British Grand Prix from tenth on the grid on Sunday.
Sainz says he was never prepared to give up despite being so low in the pack early on, and he made some excellent passes on his way to recovering to eleventh. However, he felt the pace of the car was much better than his result deserved, and he is aiming to make further progress on Sunday.
“More than a Sprint Qualifying it was a ‘comeback stint’ for me today,” said Sainz. “I’m very far from happy because the car had good pace and I was looking forward to qualifying in a good position for tomorrow.
“Unfortunately my race was heavily compromised at the first lap due to what I honestly think was George’s mistake. He locked up and hit me in the rear of the car, forcing me off the track and obviously sending me to the back of the field in P19.
“I wasn’t going to give up, so I pushed flat out for the rest of the race, did some good overtakes despite the difficulties at this track and managed to recover to P11. It was a strong comeback, but I would’ve preferred not to be pushed off.
“Anyway, it’s part of racing and we still have tomorrow to try and make up more places. The car is ready and so am I. Let’s race again.”