Charles Leclerc once again showcased his Qualifying expertise on Friday, with the Monegasque racer putting his Scuderia Ferrari into fourth place on the grid for the first-ever Sprint Qualifying race at Silverstone.
In a busy day for all teams due to the different programme in place for the British Grand Prix weekend, Leclerc was able to get his Ferrari into the top ten and then beat Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez by 0.016 seconds to get onto the second row of the grid.
Leclerc does not have any expectations for the Sprint Qualifying race, but he knows final practice on Saturday morning will be important for him to get a good set-up for race conditions.
“I’m very happy with today’s result,” said Leclerc. “Going into qualifying with so little preparation makes things a bit more tricky, but also exciting.
“We did a good job in maximizing the potential of our car. Overall, I felt confident, especially in Q1. In Q2, I was not at the level that I wanted to be, but I regained my confidence and pace for the final session, finishing in P4. I think it was the best result we could have hoped for.
“In terms of expectations for tomorrow, we have to wait and see. We are all heading into an unknown – to battle it out in the first Sprint Qualifying in Formula 1. We will use FP2 to prepare as well as we can, and give it our all to bring home the best possible result.”
“The Sprint Qualifying gives us a good opportunity to push” – Carlos Sainz Jr.
Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. was unable to match Leclerc’s speed, and he will start the first-ever Sprint Qualifying race from ninth on the grid, behind Williams Racing’s George Russell.
Sainz felt mistakes played a part in his final place on the grid, with the Spaniard believing he could have qualified around where Leclerc did, had he managed to complete a clean lap in Q3.
Like Leclerc, he will be using final practice to ready the car for the Sprint Qualifying race where, he feels, he will be able to attack and move forward, with the result of Saturday’s seventeen-lap race setting the grid for Sunday’s full-length British Grand Prix.
“I’m not fully satisfied with this quali,” said Sainz. “I had a good feeling with the car from the start of the session, building confidence every lap up to Q2, where I put together a strong lap time to make it into Q3.
“In the very last attempt however, I struggled a bit more and a couple of small mistakes here and there meant I couldn’t match that lap from Q2, losing a tenth or so that unfortunately today was very costly, as it was extremely tight. It is a pity, because the car had the pace and the lap time was there.
“The Sprint Qualifying gives us a good opportunity to push tomorrow, though. Time to focus on that. The weekend is far from over yet and I will give it my all until the end.”