Leclerc ‘struggled massively’ for pace in Q3

Jon Wilde
Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc admitted to disappointment after being unable to replicate his bright qualifying performances this season in Q3 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver has been among the stars of qualifying at several races, especially when bagging P4 for last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix, performing better than his car looked to be capable of.

There looked to be more in store than P9 for Leclerc heading into Q3 at Yas Marina, but that was where he ended up and his grid position has dropped to 12th as a result of a penalty incurred for causing a collision with Sergio Perez on the opening lap of last week’s race.

Asked if he was disappointed with the result, Leclerc replied: “Yes, I am. From Q1 to Q2 there was a nice progression but then in Q3 we lost out a little bit for some reason.

“I have no explanations yet, but I couldn’t finish the last sector with the rear tyres and it’s a shame really because before that it was going really well, but it is the way it is.

“I’m not so happy but Q2 was very good on the medium tyres. Q1 was very good too on the last set of softs but somehow we lost quite a bit of pace on the two soft runs in Q3. I struggled massively with the rear tyres in the last sector and lost a lot of lap time there, so it’s like this unfortunately.”

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At least, starting 12th, there is the potential for Leclerc to move forwards up the order in the race, rather than dropping backwards as has happened when he has previously been flattered by a higher grid position.

“I will be starting on the medium tyres, so hopefully we won’t have to touch the softs tomorrow,” said the Monegasque driver, who had also been encouraged by his car’s long-run pace in qualifying.

“It will be a tricky race, as always here in Abu Dhabi. It’s very warm but it’s also at night so I think tyre management will be a big thing, as it always is but even more so here because of the warmer temperatures. We’ll try to take care of the tyres and try to have a good result.

“We had been quite competitive in FP2 even though it was not such a good long run because of the red flag [caused by Kimi Raikkonen’s engine fire], but yeah it felt quite good, so let’s see tomorrow.”

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