Leclerc: Red Bull is on another planet
Charles Leclerc may have read our Jeddah FP3 headline: “Red Bull on another planet?” The Ferrari driver came to the same conclusion as we did today after a bittersweet qualifying session for him at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
After a week of turbulence and reported chaos at Maranello, Leclerc benefited from Max Verstappen’s driveshaft failure on his Red Bull and moved Sergio Perez close to pole, but ended up tenth and a bit shy of the Mexican, who starts from first place in the starting grid.
However, thanks to an engine penalty, Leclerc falls back to twelfth place; After the session he summarized his qualifying evening: “Happy? Yes and no. “On the one hand it was a very difficult weekend for us in terms of pace, but I think I gave my all on my lap and it was really on the limit.
“On the other hand, Red Bull is on another planet and we’re struggling a little bit, but we have to keep pushing, but we’re doing that as a team.
“[The race] won’t be easy. I have a 10 place penalty on the grid so we will start a little further back but we will focus on the race and hopefully get back up front as soon as possible.
“The race pace looked pretty good, but it’s very difficult to compare. We’ll see, but it won’t be easy because I think everyone will be very close to race pace. Our race pace looks solid this weekend. Overtaking isn’t easy on this track, so I’ll do my best to fight my way back up the field,” said the Monegasque.
Sainz: Not the best qualifying from my side
In contrast, team-mate Carlos Sainz had a memorable qualifying session on a weekend where he seems uncomfortable in the Ferrari and it showed in a rough qualifying session for the Spaniard.
He finished fifth fastest, despite his best lap being half a second behind Leclerc’s effort. But the Spaniard will be under pressure to give the battle to the rivals ahead of his team-mate, who is starting from 12th due to the Pu penalty.
Sainz admitted: “To be honest, not the best qualifying from my side. I struggled with the tires in the first corners and lost time there. The rest of the lap felt good, but it wasn’t enough to make up for sector 1. My mistake.
“But the weekend isn’t over yet and we have the pace to fight for a place on the podium, so tonight we’ll reset and come back in the race,” added Sainz.
Last year Verstappen won the race in Jeddah, with the Ferrari duo Leclerc and Sainz sharing the podium. Anything can happen with the reigning Red Bull F1 World Champion starting 15th, as we saw with his winning run from P15 last year.