Charles Leclerc believes he made a step forward with his car in France that proved central to the second pole position of his career at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Mercedes locked out the front row at Paul Ricard but Leclerc was third after a solid session, picking up a podium in the race. In Austria, Ferrari’s straight-line speed came to the fore and Leclerc delivered the fastest times of FP2 and FP3 before taking pole position, and he says the past two weeks have seen him make clear progress.
“Overall, as I said in Paul Ricard, I’ve changed a little bit the approach from Paul Ricard and I really felt I did a step forward,” Leclerc said. “Then, Austria is also my favorite track, so it might fit a little bit better to my driving style; but overall, I think, since Paul Ricard, I did a step forward. And I can feel it in car so, happy with this.
“I think our main issue in the last few grands prix was the front. We didn’t have enough front. I think this weekend it was quite a bit better. We tried different setups, setup philosophy, and it seems to be a bit better.
“So, it doesn’t mean that we’ll do a big step-up for the other races but for here it worked pretty well. I think the most time gained on the second sector is because of a stronger front compared to the last grands prix.”
Leclerc will start on the soft tire compared to the Mercedes drivers and Max Verstappen on mediums, but says he is confident in Ferrari’s strategy.
“On Friday actually it didn’t look bad compared to Mercedes but also Red Bull, so we are pretty happy I think. We are quite competitive this weekend. I think tomorrow the start will be very important. There is a long straight after it, but normally we are quite fast on the straights so hopefully we can keep first position in the first three corners.
“But the pace itself looks promising. We did some analysis after FP2, like every team does after the race simulation, and the soft looked pretty good so we are pretty happy with our strategy. Definitely different than Red Bull and Mercedes but yeah, only tomorrow will tell who was right…”