The Ferrari driver will start fourth at Silverstone and admitted to being surprised by McLaren’s impressive performance. However, the objective for tomorrow is to try and reclaim the position of the top contender behind pole-sitter Verstappen.
On paper, Silverstone was a track where Ferrari might have faced more difficulties compared to the significant progress shown in Austria, and to some extent, that has been the case so far. It’s true that this time the SF-23 cars had to settle for fourth and fifth on the grid, but they have still proven to be faster than the Mercedes and Aston Martin on the British circuit.
However, the surprise of the day has been McLaren, who secured second and third positions with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, astonishing even Charles Leclerc, who will line up behind them in fourth place tomorrow. “They are really fast, we’ll have to see their race pace, but today I was definitely surprised by what Lando and Oscar did,” said the Monegasque driver to Sky Sport F1.
The positive note, however, is that the updates introduced in Austria seem to be working quite well on this track as well, as Charles Leclerc was on track to beat the MCL60s until the second sector, then perhaps he overdid it in T3 and paid the price. “The approach I had was paying off, at least until the final sector. In these conditions, it’s very difficult because as soon as you go over the limit, you lose a bit more than usual. I also struggled at turns 6 and 7,” he explained.
The other good news today is that in the early stages of qualifying, there were again those conditions that had put him in great difficulty in the last races when slicks needed to be used on a damp track, and this time he had no major issues advancing to Q3.
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“There are still positive aspects because I’m happy with the progress we made in the conditions of Q1 and Q2, where I hadn’t done well in the last few Grands Prix. I’m not yet at the level I want to be, but it’s already much better. I felt much more comfortable. Then in Q3, sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t, today is one of those days, but I gave it my – the Monegasque driver pointed out.
As has become the norm this season, Max Verstappen seems to be out of reach for everyone, but Charles Leclerc is confident that he can try to compete with McLaren and Mercedes for the role of the top “other” driver.
“The goal is to go for at least second place. We have no doubt that Mercedes is very strong on the long run, but there are some question marks regarding McLaren because we didn’t expect them to be so strong in qualifying. I had a good feeling in the first free practice session, but then I didn’t have much running in FP2, and it seemed like we were struggling a bit, so I still don’t have the answers.” – the Ferrari man concluded.