Charles Leclerc is desperate for a clean rest from his race weekend in Austria after a series of damaging setbacks.
For a while it looked like Leclerc and Ferrari would win the 2022 titles, but now it’s Red Bull taking control as Ferrari falters.
Leclerc hasn’t won since the Australian Grand Prix in April, with reliability issues and misfires in Ferrari’s strategy having let the 24-year-old down on several occasions.
The last five races in particular have been tough for Leclerc, P4 his best position at the time, so after securing P2 on the grid for sprint qualifying in Austria he is right after a clean sprint and a Grand Prix d Austria to “score the points”. that we deserve”.
“I just want to do a clean race,” he told Sky Sports F1 after qualifying.
“Obviously, it’s been a bit of a disaster for me for five races. So yeah, I just hope everything goes well and we can finally get the points we deserve.
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The third quarter saw two red flag delays, both triggered by a crashing Mercedes.
Leclerc had secured provisional pole at the very end of the session, only for Max Verstappen to exceed his time by just 0.029 seconds to snatch pole. 0.082s covered the top three on the grid, with Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz set to start P3.
Those delays, according to Leclerc, hampered his ability to get the tires back into their optimal operating window.
“I think the three of us [were] very, very close, it was an exciting qualifying,” he said.
“On the last lap I struggled a bit to get the tires back on after such a long time in the pits, but Max was just a bit quicker. So congratulations to him and hopefully we have an exciting race. tomorrow.
As the results of the sprint qualifying will determine the starting grid for the race, Leclerc knows he has to be very careful in choosing his battles.
That being said, if an opportunity presents itself, he fully intends to seize it.
“Patience will obviously be one thing, but obviously if there is an opportunity I will take it,” he confirmed.
“Tyre management will be one thing, it’s one thing that’s important here and we can definitely play around with the sprint race management a bit, so let’s see what’s possible. If nothing is possible, I will be patient and wait until Sunday.
Despite being so close to pole, Sainz said there was still time on the table and he knew where he could have found him.
Nonetheless, he was glad he got too close to Verstappen and Leclerc on the timesheets.
Asked if there was anything left on the table in Q3, Sainz replied: “Oh sure. When you look back and see how close it is, you come back to the lap and find places where you left that tenth of a second that could have given us pole.
“The good thing is that we had a good lap there at the end of Q3. It was not easy because the tires were very cold after the red flag.
“Trusting the car in turn 1, in turn 3 was not the easiest, but I know where the lap time is, I just wish I could have done it a little better. But I will take P3 and being close to these two guys.
Sainz expects a tough race weekend from here, citing Red Bull’s tendency to step it up a notch with their race pace from the qualifying trim.
However, he has every intention of making life difficult for the home side.
“We were pretty close today, normally when they are a bit quicker in qualifying, in the race they are definitely quick,” said Sainz.
“So it’s going to be a tough weekend from here but we’ve definitely put ourselves in a good position to attack tomorrow to try and make life harder for them and put the pressure on them.
“I think with two cars close to Max like us, it will be a good time to put the pressure on.”