(Motorsport-Total.com) – 0.043 seconds separated Charles Leclerc in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Russia from entering Q3. The Monegasse has to be content with starting position eleven. After qualifying, he is mainly angry about the communication with his pit crew.
“They told me that Ocon is only a second or two behind me, but he was further back. So I could have left more space, so I’m angry now,” said Leclerc after qualifying at ‘Sky Italia’. He talks about the last two minutes in Q2, which were hectic.
Shortly before that, Leclerc was able to line up in ninth position with his first Q2 attempt when he suddenly found the wreck of his teammate Sebastian Vettel in front of him in the middle of the track. He was just able to avoid the German who had had an accident and prevent worse – but he drove over the rubble of the sister car.
Leclerc can’t believe it: “What the hell?”
“My goodness, that was very close!” Leclerc radioed angrily. Due to the Vettel accident, the session was canceled, at 2:15 minutes on the clock, all drivers drove back to the pits. Without knowing when the race management would open the track again, the first drivers lined up at the pit lane exit after a short waiting time.
Leclerc also lined up behind the two Red Bull and AlphaTauri drivers. “All the cars will have to drive a fast outlap, so we have to overtake a few,” radioed his race engineer Xavier Marcos. He was also asked to overtake Daniil Kwjat, who was driving in front of him, and to push to make it across the start-finish line in time.
The only remaining Ferrari driver actually made it across the finish line in time, but couldn’t get past Kwjat and was practically stuck in the rear of the AlphaTauri. “What the hell? That was more than two seconds [Abstand nach hinten]”he complained about his engineer’s instructions after he finally abandoned the lap.
“We had a margin of six seconds,” admits Marcos after the messed up trip. The 22-year-old was visibly angry. He slapped his helmet with his hands and quickly got out of his SF1000.
“I have to calm down first,” said Leclerc shortly afterwards in front of the TV microphones. The Monegasse is annoyed at the sight of the gap between Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon, who were on a fast lap directly behind him – and had significantly more distance.
Leclerc, on the other hand, felt compelled by the announcements of his team to drive the fast lap directly behind Kwjat in the turbulent air under suboptimal conditions instead of letting himself fall a little further back.
Leclerc would have gladly given up free tire choice
“It is disappointing that we didn’t make it into Q3. I thought I had absolutely no leeway, at least that was communicated to me by radio,” he said. “But I could have left a little more distance to the front man.”
The result is frustrating. Because he had been struggling with his pace the entire weekend. “It’s a difficult weekend, I didn’t drive well until qualifying. Then I finally found my rhythm, but couldn’t show the car’s potential today.”
But he also finds something positive about eleventh place: the free choice of tires on Sunday. “We are the first car that is allowed to choose the tires, hopefully we can benefit from it.” But he also notes that he would have preferred to start eighth and not have chosen the tires.