Pole-sitter Leclerc reveals struggles | Verstappen: I expect it to be tight
Charles Leclerc admitted he had found it difficult at times to find consistency around Albert Park even though he put his Ferrari on pole for Sunday’s race; watch Sunday’s race live on Sunday at 6am on Sky Sports F1
Last Updated: 09/04/22 10:37am
Charles Leclerc was delighted to secure pole position on the grid for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix after revealing he had been struggling around Albert Park throughout the weekend.
The Ferrari driver had been consistently among the front-runners during the three practice sessions and secured his place on the front row with a fastest lap of 1:17.868 in Q3.
But Leclerc admitted afterwards it had been difficult for him to find the consistency he had been searching for until that lap, despite appearing from the outside to have been performing strongly.
“Overall, I’m very happy because it’s a track where I’ve always struggled in the past and I’ve struggled this weekend,” Leclerc said.
“You probably couldn’t see from outside because we were quite fast, but I was struggling quite a lot with mistakes, being inconsistent and I really worked on that to try to put a good lap together in Q3.
“I knew it was just all about putting it together and I managed to do it in Q3, so I’m very happy.
“It’s more the nature of the corners like Turn 1 and Turn 6 where the turning phase is very sharp and fast, and I struggled with my driving style in those corners, struggling to be very precise.”
World championship leader Leclerc is aiming to build on a strong start which saw him open the 2022 season with victory in Bahrain and finish second after a thrilling battle with Max Verstappen in Saudi Arabia.
The 24-year-old, whose previous two Grand Prix in Australia have yielded 13th and fifth-place finishes, was surprised by how well the Ferrari performed on Saturday though.
“It feels great and very happy to be starting on pole tomorrow [Sunday],” Leclerc said.
“Again, we were quite surprised by our pace in qualifying so we will see what happens [on Synday].”
Verstappen: I expect it to be tight
Verstappen, who will start second with team-mate Sergio Perez one place behind him in third, feels there is more to come from the Red Bull car.
The reigning world champion managed a best lap of 1:18.154 in Q3 and confessed to his own struggles throughout the weekend as well.
“I would have hoped to start first, but we have to accept where we finish, but the whole weekend has been a bit tricky for me,” Verstappen said.
“I’ve never really found a stable grip whether it’s front or rear and that’s just not nice. For me, that’s really been the case all year.
“I’ve just never found a comfortable balance where I could attack corners, especially in qualifying and that’s a big limitation because it’s something very new for me in the last three years.
“Of course, I’m talking like I’m P18, but I think we have a lot of potential in the car we’re not showing and I think that’s a bit of a shame.”
Nevertheless, the Dutchman believes the Red Bull has shown better levels of performance in race conditions and expects another close-fought contest with Leclerc in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
“In the race, we have quite a good balance and in the long run [in P3] it seemed under control,” Verstappen said.
“I expect it to be tight; maybe Ferrari will find something, but I hope not and hopefully we can have a good battle again.”