Max Verstappen pulls Charles Leclerc into interview to answer key Ferrari question

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc speak to the media at the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc speak to the media.

In a light-hearted moment ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Max Verstappen enlisted the help of Charles Leclerc to answer a question on Ferrari’s qualifying chances.

Formula 1 has reached the penultimate round of F1 2023, arguably the most hotly-anticipated stop on the calendar as the Las Vegas Grand Prix makes its debut.

There Verstappen will be looking to continue his dominant ways as he chases a remarkable 18th win of the season, but victory is far from a certainty as the drivers venture out into uncharted territory.

Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari “strong” but has doubts versus Red Bull

Speaking to Sky F1 ahead of the race weekend, it was put to Verstappen that the Red Bull RB19 seemingly needs a while to fire its tyres up, so was asked whether this is going to work in Ferrari’s favour.

The drivers are set to face temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius when they tackle the night-time sessions, an unusually low number in the world of Formula 1.

Verstappen though felt that Leclerc was the one better qualified to answer this question.

“Ask him – what do you think Charles?” Verstappen said in reply to the question as he invited Leclerc, who was stood behind him, over to join the conversation.

Verstappen said and motioned that Red Bull like to “massage” the Pirelli tyres, as Leclerc replied: “You do massage the tyres. But, it’s cold here, so I don’t know if you will have to massage the tyres?”

With Verstappen in response joking that Red Bull will upgrade to a “hot stone massage”, Leclerc would confirm that while swift tyre warm-up is a Ferrari strength, he doubts this will be enough to topple Red Bull.

“Well this is our strength, [but] I think they still have the upper hand for sure,” said Leclerc.

Asked if that is in reference to just the race or qualifying as well, Leclerc replied: “I think both.

“But maybe, in qualy, we never know. We think we’re going to be strong here.”

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Leclerc finished by turning the tables on Verstappen for his thoughts on how strong Red Bull will be in Las Vegas, but he could not draw out a serious answer.

“I don’t think too much,” Verstappen replied with a smile.

Leclerc is no stranger to pole positions in F1 2023, having claimed the P1 grid slot at the Azerbaijan, Belgian, United States and Mexican GPs, though that has not always set him up for success, with 22 poles having been converted to only five wins.

Leclerc has not tasted victory since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.

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