Aside from his SF-23 needing a new front wing, Charles Leclerc doesn’t believe there were any consequences to his sprint shootout crash, after all he still claimed pole position.
The Monégasque driver followed up his pole position from Friday night’s qualifying at the Baku circuit with a P1 in Saturday’s first-ever sprint shootout.
But sitting on provisional pole after his first flying lap in SQ3, the driver faced a worrying few moments when he crashed his Ferrari at Turn 5. Sitting in his car while his Red Bull rivals completed their laps, Leclerc could only hope they weren’t able to beat his time.
They didn’t, Sergio Perez falling short by 0.147s and guaranteeing Leclerc pole position for Saturday’s sprint race.
The Ferrari driver revealed overheated rear tyres coupled with his concerns that he was down on his previous lap time meant he pushed a bit too hard.
“When we started it was a little tricky, you get into SQ3 and we haven’t driven on these tyres since yesterday,” he said.
“It’s not a long time ago but the conditions are very different so it was behaving much differently.
“The rear overheated on the second lap, I tried to push a bit more to gain some lap time as I was behind my first best time but I lost it in Turn 5.”
Luckily for Leclerc, but perhaps not for his team-mate Carlos Sainz who was behind him on the track, there weren’t any consequences for the five-time grand prix winner.
“At the end it didn’t have any consequences on qualifying,” he said before adding: “I don’t know about Carlos behind me, it was a shame if he was improving.
“Happy with the first lap, very happy with the first lap.”
As for the damage to his SF-23, he told Sky Sports: “I don’t think there’s that much damage, only the front wing.
“We will of course check absolutely everything to make sure there are no troubles at the start of the race. But it wasn’t too big of a crash.”
With eight points up for grabs for the win in the sprint race, Leclerc has made it clear he’s going to go for it this afternoon.
“We will go for it but we need also to be realistic,” he said.
“Until now we’ve been on the back foot in the races especially. The Red Bulls seems to be a step ahead.
“But let’s see how it is. Hopefully we’ll have a good surprise.
“We have improved the car quite a bit but today we’ll have more of an answer in the race to see where we are competitive.”
Pressed as to whether he could ‘battle’ the Red Bulls, he replied: “I’ll do everything for it, we are here for it. Ferrari need to be on top and I’ll do everything to win.”