Leclerc 7th and with the nose, in the qualifications of Melbourne. It’s not a good sign: neither is the starting position of the Monegasque, who is a pole specialist even with inadequate cars. Nor for what happened this morning in Australia between him and his teammate Carlos Sainz (placed 5th on the grid) and with the whole team. Misunderstandings, confusion, request for clarification. Which compromised a day that was to be exploited, with Red Bull’s exit in Q1 Sergio Perez. At least to try to stay on the heels not of Verstappen, also impregnable at Albert Park, but at least of Mercedes and Aston Martin.
Leclerc-Sainz, what happened
Instead in the red box, where there are already problems for a car that has so far been below expectations, the opportunity was missed. But what happened? In the last attempt of qualifying, when the rain that soaked Friday and also the last free sessions of the morning threatened to get back on track in the last 5 minutes, Leclerc did only one warm-up lap while Sainz did two, moreover leaving the garage right across from Charles. The Monegasque found his teammate in front throughout the first sector, which disturbed him in his lap. Unintentionally, of course, the Spaniard was trying to warm up the tyres. In fact, neither one nor the other achieved improvements in the final time trial.
F1, the starting grid of the Australian GP: Verstappen in pole position
Leclerc: “We have to see what happened”
Leclerc, who usually manages to find an extra in qualifying, beyond the strange situation he found himself in, wasn’t brilliant. As soon as he got out of the car, with a tense face, he explained: “I didn’t have any petrol. But we were afraid the rain would arrive and we decided to only do a flying lap and not two. Unfortunately we missed too much to be further up front. Then we have to see with the team what happened with Sainz in the first sector in Q3, because it was clear that I had to push immediately after the first flying lap, while he did 2. Carlos was in front of me throughout the first sector preparing his tyres, and that’s a bit of a shame. But then to say that I would have done much better, I don’t know. We could have improved just a little”.
Maybe even just one position, on a circuit where it’s difficult to overtake, wouldn’t be ruined. Even if Charles, who vented colorfully in a radio message (“A Q3 of m….”), also admits his responsibility: “I certainly have a slightly more racing car, but it doesn’t justify the seventh place today. I should have done a better job, and I should have managed everything better. I’m not particularly happy with the way I drove, the feeling in the car was quite good, but I put it all together too late.” Also for Sainzwith an additional warm-up lap, it went no better: he had to slow down in various points to give way to those behind him and thus cooled the tires: “When I launched I lost a couple of tenths in the first sector, and this it cost me a place in the top 3. They told me that behind me there were riders finishing on their flying lap, but that was only the case for some, and the slowdown cost me a drop in tire temperature”.
Verstappen on pole in Australia ahead of the Mercedes. Ferrari: Sainz 5th, Leclerc 7th
by Alessandra Retico
Ferrari: “An imperfect afternoon”
“An imperfect afternoon” is the title of the Ferrari for their qualifications. The team principal, Fred Vasseur, he explains to her like this: “Things didn’t go the right way for us. In Q3 we were on the limit towards the end of the session and so we avoided doing the preparation lap with Charles, while Carlos was unable to put together the lap, losing a couple of tenths in turn 1, without which he could have been second or third”. Instead, in front of the reds they will have a wall: Mercedes and Aston Martin in battle to find a place on earth, while in the lead Verstappen will race on his planet.