Leclerc on pole but baffled by sector one struggles

Jon Wilde
Charles Leclerc standing with Michael Douglas. Miami May 2022.

Charles Leclerc said he snatched pole position for the first Miami Grand Prix despite continued problems at the circuit’s opening section of corners.

The Ferrari driver leads the World Championship by 27 points and is in great shape to extend that advantage in round five of a possible 23 this season, with his team-mate Carlos Sainz alongside him on the front row of the grid.

But on a Miami International Autodrome street track that winds its way around the Hard Rock Stadium, Leclerc admitted he had struggled in sector one – and that potentially could prove troublesome in the race, especially if title rival Max Verstappen comes charging at him from P3.

Ultimately, in qualifying it did not matter as the Monegasque driver pulled out all the time he needed in the last two sectors to pip Sainz and the reigning World Champion, who had held provisional pole position going into the final runs.

“During qualifying I was in control, but on the last lap I made a mistake at Turns 1, 2 and 3, which are corners I have never got right this weekend, I don’t know why,” Leclerc told Sky Italia.

“In the race it [should be] better, but in qualifying I had no feeling with the car with the set-up I chose. So there I lost a lot compared to the previous lap and to Carlos and the others.

“So after that I pushed a lot and the rest of the lap went quite well. We have to work to understand those first three corners.”

It’s a two-by-two formation on the first couple of rows with the Ferrari duo followed by the Red Bull pair of Verstappen and Sergio Perez, and undoubtedly that quartet will be the main contenders for victory.

So far this term, it’s Leclerc and Verstappen with two wins apiece, the Ferrari man holding such a big lead in the title race due to the Dutchman’s two retirements as a result of car breakdowns.

“The race pace [in practice] was quite good,” added Leclerc. “We don’t have Max’s data reference, we have Checo’s. We were in quite a good position compared to him, but we don’t underestimate Max because with more laps tomorrow he will be even closer.

“And they are super-fast on the straights, so it will be difficult.”

 

Sainz enjoyed a much more positive Saturday after some tough times dating back to the Australian Grand Prix qualifying session, with a series of accidents since then.

“It’s nice to see Carlos with me on the first row,” added Leclerc. “If we manage to keep P1 and P2 after the start, it will be a positive thing for the rest of the race.”

 

Red Bull and Ferrari continue the battle in Miami

Ferrari and Red Bull will be going to battle once again this weekend in Miami.