Charles Leclerc stopped just short of saying he had done the perfect lap after securing P4 on the grid for the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver had briefly put himself on the front row with a few minutes of qualifying remaining at the Bahrain International Circuit – then jumped out of the car and watched the rest of the session!
Leclerc was seen talking to members of the team on the pit wall and then stood waiting for his rivals to drive out of the garage and head off for their final runs, knowing there was literally nothing more he could do.
In the end, the 23-year-old dropped two more places down to fourth, and rather than simply being unable to extract any more performance out of his car it was also the case that he did not have any more tyres available for an extra run.
“I didn’t have a new set,” confirmed Leclerc to Sky F1, and then explained why he had been out of synch with his opponents.
“I took the decision to go early in the session instead of waiting to the end for two reasons – first I was expecting the traffic to be a mess at the end of the session, and second I just had the ideas clear and wanted to get out on the track and do the job, which we did.
“To be honest, I don’t think I could have done anything better going later, so extremely happy.
“I don’t like to say it’s a perfect lap, you can always do something better, but honestly everything I wanted to do, I did it.”
What a lap that was!!!
That’s P4 for tomorrow, let’s see what we can do from there 🔥 pic.twitter.com/aCmPeNQGVZ
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) December 5, 2020
Talking through his lap, he added: “I was scared because I broke very late into the first corner but managed to make the corner anyway. I think I got a snap into turn four and thought ‘oh my god, I don’t know if the tyres will last until the end of the lap’.”
However, even though Leclerc is firmly in the hunt to finish fourth in the drivers’ World Championship standings, he fears it may be again the case that he falls back down the order in the race.
“I think a few times this year we have qualified ahead of where we probably should have, which gives us a lot of hopes and then it gets frustrating in the car on Sunday,” said Leclerc.
“Let’s be realistic, tomorrow will be a difficult day. I don’t think we will be as competitive as today. I don’t think we are the fourth fastest car on track, but I’ll try to maximise what we have.”
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