‘Surprised’ Leclerc expects more to come from Merc/RB

Jamie Woodhouse
Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc surprised by Monaco P1 on Thursday, but suspects more to come from Mercedes/Red Bull.

Charles Leclerc was “quite surprised” to end Thursday practice in Monaco at the top of the timings, but retains a great deal of caution.

Returning to his home race for the first time since 2019, Leclerc’s Thursday went from the deepest of lows to the ultimate high.

His FP1 lasted all of four laps thanks to engine issues, but by the end of FP2 he was sitting pretty in P1 ahead of Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz.

Max Verstappen said his Red Bull team were looking very weak against the Ferraris, while over at Mercedes Lewis Hamilton was pleasantly surprised by the competition from Ferrari.

Leclerc though suspects Mercedes and Red Bull have more pace remaining to unlock compared to Ferrari, and so will look ahead to qualifying for the true picture to become clear.

“I was quite surprised that it ended that way,” he told reporters.

“Monaco it is very important to do as many laps as we can, and unfortunately with the issue we had in FP1 I had only done four laps.

“But I felt quite at ease with the car in FP2, and managed to do that lap. There is still a bit of margin, but on the other hand I’m sure that Mercedes and Red Bull have more margin than we have.

“So we shouldn’t get carried away too much, we will have one day tomorrow to work hard, and then let’s see where we will end up.”

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Completing a stunning Thursday for Ferrari was Sainz. Finishing P2 he was a tenth adrift of Leclerc, but still almost three tenths up on P3 finisher Hamilton.

It has been common practice this season for Mercedes and Red Bull to turn the engine up come qualifying, but Sainz believes Ferrari are very close to being a genuine threat.

“We definitely look very close to being a genuine threat,” he said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.

“I think we need to wait until FP3, because things change a lot from Thursday to Saturday here.

“There are some drivers that stand back a bit on Thursday, just because they want to take it easy, and then suddenly on Saturday, like Lewis always does, he’s super quick.

“We will see. It’s nice to see at least that we are closer to the front, that we’re actually playing around there at the front.

“It’s encouraging for the team, and there’s some positive signs that the car in the corners is actually not that bad.”

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