Red Bull F1 still on “another planet”, says Leclerc
Charles Leclerc has no doubt that Red Bull remains on “another planet” despite getting close to pole position man Sergio Perez in qualifying for the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
While Leclerc came into the Jeddah weekend knowing he was facing a 10-place penalty on the grid, it still meant he had to give his all to ensure he didn’t start too far down the order.
But while he got within 0.15 of Perez as he finished qualifying second, the weekend didn’t give much cause for optimism for the Monegasque.
With Ferrari seemingly lacking the potential to beat Red Bull and knowing Max Verstappen had been so strong in practice prior to the driveshaft issue that eliminated him in Q2, Leclerc remained realistic about the gap to the front.
“Satisfied? Yes and no,” said Leclerc, who will start the race in twelfth place. “On the one hand I think it was a very difficult weekend for us in terms of pace. But I’m very happy with my lap. I think I gave my all. It was really on the limit.
“On the other hand, Red Bull is on another planet. And we have a little trouble. So we have to keep pushing. But we do that as a team.
“Tomorrow won’t be easy. I have 10 starting penalty. So we start a little further back. But we’re concentrating on the race and hopefully getting back up front as soon as possible. “
While Ferrari focused a lot on improving their race pace in qualifying, Leclerc didn’t see an easy way forward after so many difficulties in Bahrain.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“Race pace is looking pretty good,” he said. “But it’s very difficult to compare because in FP2 everyone has a very different programme.
“Well, we’ll see. It seemed a little bit better but it won’t be easy because I feel like everyone is very close at race pace.”
Perez said qualifying was pretty easy for him as it’s all about not having problems to put in a clean lap.
“It was tricky in Q3, especially not making it to the second lap,” said the Mexican. “Q1 was pretty good: it was pretty clean and that lap was done really cleanly.
“You really feel the F1 cars come alive in this place and it was very important to maximize that lap because with the problem we had in the last heat it was really important as the track improved. “