Surprised Leclerc promises “big balls” at turn one
Charles Leclerc has revealed his Ferrari team was surprised by their pace after he qualified fourth for the Portuguese Grand Prix and said “big balls” will be crucial in turn one during tomorrow’s race.
Ferrari has been wildly off-form this season but is showing signs of resurgence, with the Monegasque driver’s effort at Portimao matching his qualifying performance last time out in the Eifel Grand Prix.
Leclerc's lap time was good enough to miss out on third by just over a tenth and within four-tenths of the pole position time set by Lewis Hamilton.
“We did not expect it,” he told Sky Sports F1. “We expected a better result than usual, taking off the fourth place in the Nurburgring, but to be so close to pole position was a surprise. There is always more to give, but I am happy with the lap.”
But the Ferrari driver, who has not finished higher than sixth since the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone in August, is confident warmer conditions at the Portimao circuit will prevent the problems from last time out re-emerging.
After making it into Q3 with a set of medium tyres, Leclerc will have a strategic advantage over his nearest on-track rivals and he is aware he cannot leave anything on the table.
“The first corner, you just have to have balls there and go for it, which is what I try to do," he said.
Asked if the dirty side could lead to a bad get-away he added: “I hope not. I believe the medium tyre is a good choice to start with. The only tricky part will be the start, but this we can’t know until we do it.
“We struggled a lot with graining at the Nurburgring, conditions were quite a bit different, a lot colder, but I don’t think we expect those kind of problems tomorrow. Maybe we are wrong, but I think it should be much better tomorrow.”
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