Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has thanked teammate Carlos Sainz for helping him secure pole position for the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard.
Leclerc clocked 1:30.872 on his final run in Q3 to take pole position three tenths of a second over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
The Monegasque benefited from a tow provided by his team-mate Sainz, the Spaniard taking part in qualifying despite an engine penalty on the grid which forced him to start at the back of the grid.
Sainz got into position to give Leclerc a tow down the straight into the corner of Signes, doing so on both of Leclerc’s runs in Q3.
After securing his 16th career pole position, Leclerc beamed as he thanked Sainz for agreeing to help his teammate make such an effort.
“It’s a great lap,” Leclerc said after qualifying.
“I struggled all weekend to get a lap and I managed to do it, but I have to say I also had help from Carlos and it was amazing teamwork.
“Without Carlos it would have been much closer. A big thank you to Carlos and I hope he can join us in the fight for victory tomorrow.
Elaborating on the benefit he derived from the tow provided, Leclerc said it could have been up to a quarter of a second.
“[Carlos] did the perfect job and the perfect tow so that helped me a lot,” he told Sky F1.
“I think I’ve gained two tenths, or a little over two tenths, on that straight and so you come into the third sector in a much better frame of mind because you know you’ve won those two tenths. for free, so that was a great job.”
As Ferrari hits back Red Bull after Verstappen convincingly topped the times in the final practice session on Saturday morning, Leclerc said he was surprised by the ebb and flow of pace between the top two sides as the Scuderia had nearly eight tenths ahead of the two Red Bulls in Q2.
“After Q1 I was very surprised by the pace we had,” admitted Leclerc.
“Also in Q2 we were very strong. So somehow we managed to turn things around for qualifying, but it’s a nice surprise.
“It feels good. But again, it’s hard to understand what the guys from Red Bull did yesterday because there was a lot of difference in terms of lap times. So let’s see how it goes.