Leclerc wary of ‘very quick’ McLaren hiding pace

Date published: June 4 2021

Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc discussed his latest Baku crash but, more intriguingly, the hidden pace of McLaren in Baku.

The Monegasque driver will be hoping that his trip into the barriers, which destroyed the front wing on the Ferrari, will be his only costly mistake of the weekend, since he holds bad memories of that qualifying crash in 2019 the last time Formula 1 was in Baku.

But passing it off as just a case of being too comfortable on the brakes at Turn 15, Leclerc said practice is designed for these errors.

“I actually felt quite comfortable in the car today, especially on braking maybe a little too comfortable and I pushed a little bit too much into Turn 15,” he told reporters.

“But in the end that is what the free practice is for, I’ve been trying the limits a little bit, I was on a good lap on that one.”

Overall it was a fantastic day for Ferrari as Leclerc ended FP2 in P4, two tenths down on team-mate Carlos Sainz who was only 0.128s shy of Sergio Perez’s benchmark.

So, should the Ferrari fans be getting excited for a continuation of the team’s Monaco heroics?

“Not yet,” was Leclerc’s response.

“It’s definitely better than we expected, but it’s only FP1 and FP2.

“I think McLaren are very, very quick but they haven’t showed it for some reason today.

“But I feel like they are still a bit ahead of us here, so we will have to wait and see tomorrow. Definitely Red Bull, and Mercedes I don’t really know what happened, but they will be in front, and basically a fight with McLaren, that is our main competitor.

“We need to make sure we do everything perfect, because they are making few mistakes this year.”

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Sainz agreed that Ferrari’s pace exceeded expectations coming into the weekend, but the Spaniard made it clear that they are not as competitive as they were in Monaco.

“We are a bit quicker maybe than we anticipated, but it is true also that I had a couple of tows in my good laps, the long runs we didn’t quite clearly see the pace, so maybe the whole picture is not as clear as it can get,” he said.

“But we are definitely not as quick as we were in Monaco, that is for sure, I think Red Bull are both quicker in the short run and the long run.”

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