Leclerc bounced back from his nightmarish run in France to qualify seventh in Austria but, despite an almost perfect lap, he was frustrated by an almost “scary” gap of over 0.3 seconds to McLaren’s Lando Norris, who was fourth. .
His teammate Carlos Sainz suffered from a lack of front grip and had to settle for 12th place on the grid.
âWe are actually very happy with my lap,â said Leclerc. âI put everything in place, I had a good lap, I didn’t make any mistakes, I did all of my best turns in one lap.
âBut on the other hand, when I look at the gap between me and Lando, it’s enoughâ¦ I wouldn’t go so far as to scare, but it’s enough. So we have to work hard. tomorrow.
âI think our race pace was better than our qualifying pace this weekend, which is quite unusual. But sometimes we didn’t carry over that pace we had on Friday to Sunday’s race.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport images
“So we really have to make sure we work well tonight, try to prepare in the best possible way for tomorrow and have a good race from there.”
Leclerc didn’t have the front end issues his teammate faced and stressed that his weakness lay elsewhere.
âThis weekend I struggled a little less with the front,â he said. âIt was my problem at Paul Ricard, actually, and we made a few changes that helped me here.
âTo be honest, we are losing quite a bit in the first sector, which is mainly the three DRS zones.
âFor some reason, and we don’t fully understand why yet, because that’s mainly where we open DRS, and the others seem to be a lot stronger with DRS enabled.
âSo it’s not in all the straights. It’s mostly in those three straights. And then the overall grip, probably a bit. But we’re not that bad on the corners, actually, though. you compare to others. “
Leclerc admitted that the team had the wrong race pace, to the detriment of the potential for qualifying: “A little bit, but not as much as the gap says. Certainly not, but a little bit.”
Sainz has confirmed that a front grip issue is costing him performance.
âThis weekend we are clearly not that strong on one lap compared to other weekends,â said the Spaniard.
“We’re three, four tenths behind the AlphaTauri and the McLaren. Even the Alpine, looks like Charles managed to pass him. [Fernando Alonso], but they definitely looked stronger than us all weekend, those two or three teams.
âAnd I struggled with the front tires in qualifying, to get them to work. Some laps I managed to get them to bite at high speed, some laps for some reason it doesn’t bite, and I under -vire even if I change the configuration.
“So it’s not ideal, but hopefully we can change the trend and be better in racing than in quality.”
Sainz said the team didn’t make any significant changes to their car and agreed with Leclerc that the straights were an issue.
âNo, we didn’t actually do anything much different to be honest,â he said. âSo it’s not as if my car was very different from that of the Paul Ricard. So these are just the characteristics of the track. There are three consecutive long straights here.
“Our sector 1 has been very poor all weekend. There are those track characteristics that come into play that clearly don’t suit us very well.”