Leclerc says practice pace ‘too good to believe’

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc Monaco

Charles Leclerc Monaco

Despite claiming the 1-2 on Thursday, Charles Leclerc says Ferrari’s pace around the streets of Monaco was “too good to believe”.

Leclerc and his team-mate Carlos Sainz pulled off a surprise 1-2 on Thursday as Formula 1 returned to the streets of Monte Carlo for the first time since 2019.

The local lad set the pace, a 1:11.684, with his new team-mate 0.1s down.

Third place went to Lewis Hamilton, a further 0.29s off the pace, with his title rival Max Verstappen 0.007s slower than the Mercedes driver.

It was the first time since Brazil 2019 that Ferrari sat 1-2 on a Formula 1 timesheet.

Leclerc, though, has downplayed the Scuderia’s pace.

Asked if he was optimistic about their chances at his home race, he told “Not yet, we wait for Saturday for now.

“It’s looking good. For now it’s looking a bit too good to believe it.

“So let’s wait and see. Saturday, we’ll know exactly where we are in qualifying, and we’ll go from there for the race.”

He added: “I’m sure that Mercedes and Red Bull have more margin than we have.”

However, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas reckons Ferrari will be in the mix this weekend.

“Yes, Ferrari looks really quick and Red Bull as well,” he said. “It’s not going to be only about two teams, so it should be fun.”

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Leclerc lost track time in Thursday’s first practice, his Ferrari suffering a gearbox issue that meant he completed just four laps in the opening hour.

Asked whether he was able to use Sainz’s data to help him ahead of FP2, he explained that it was “nearly impossible” to do so.

“Honestly, on the driver’s side, for me, it’s nearly impossible to find references with what he’s doing, because at the end I don’t have my own references,” he said.

“So it’s all about basically going out in FP2, trying to take your time to get to speed, trying to take your own references.

“After the first run, I could compare a little bit with Carlos to see where I was lacking. And I just did that for the end of FP2.”

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