Charles Leclerc ‘not confident’ of Belgium success despite taking pole position

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc in parc ferme. Belgium July 2023.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc adjusts his helmet strap after qualifying. Spa July 2023.

Charles Leclerc admitted he is “not confident” of holding off the charging Red Bull of Max Verstappen on Sunday, despite the fact he will start on pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Leclerc went second fastest in Friday’s qualifying session as Verstappen went a full eight tenths faster than anyone else in a wet/dry hour at Spa-Francorchamps, but with a five-place grid penalty looming for exceeding his gearbox allocation for the season he will start sixth.

This will promote the Ferrari driver to his 20th career pole position come Sunday, leading a congested chasing pack behind the runaway World Championship leader.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Charles Leclerc ‘not confident’ with ‘much better’ Red Bulls behind

Leclerc edged clear of Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull on a drying track, with only a tenth separating second and fifth place in a tight qualifying session behind Verstappen on Friday.

With the session having started in the wet, the track gradually dried as the hour went on and the drivers eventually finished on slick tyres, with Leclerc making the most of what was underneath him to set a time quick enough for the front row.

“Yeah, it was very difficult, especially [Turns] 8/9 was horrible. You would get into the corner and you never knew how much grip you will have and you just had to trust the car to grip again,” he explained to media including after qualifying.

“Because in between 8 and 9 there was really low grip and then in the middle of 9 you will get the grip again, and you just had to trust the process.

“You can never really go over the limit in those conditions, so you just need to go step-by-step and get as close as possible in the last lap of Q3.” recommends

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When asked specifically about whether or not he feels he can be in the hunt for the win come Sunday, his response was short and sweet.

“Not confident, especially with the two Red Bull guys right behind. I think they’ve got a much better race car than we have,” Leclerc stated.

“I mean, it’s great to be starting first and I think it gives us a good chance to have a great result. But to say that we’ll target the win, I think it’s probably a bit too optimistic.

“If there’s an opportunity, for whatever reason, as always, I’ll try and take it, but I believe it’s going to be difficult to keep those guys behind.”

Read more: Winners and losers from the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix qualifying