Charles Leclerc says his surprise fifth place in qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix is down to his greater confidence in the car when Ferrari runs more downforce.
Ferrari struggled massively in both Spa and Monza over the last two weekends, where the car was in a lower downforce configuration. At Mugello, teams are running much higher downforce given the number of high-speed corners and Leclerc says that gives him a car that he is much more comfortable pushing to the absolute limit.
“I’m very happy with the lap overall,” Leclerc said. “I put everything together and P5 was definitely above any of our expectations so very, very happy.
“Monza and Spa was extremely difficult for the whole team. Our low-downforce (package), I struggle massively to drive the car with that low-downforce settings, very difficult with the balance. Here we managed to put the balance right and it felt very good in the car.
“We are lacking overall performance to be able to fight with the guys in front, but the balance was good today, it gave me confidence. I could give my best on that quali lap. The first lap in Q3 was with old tires, so to go from old to new, it was tricky. But in the end, we made it happen.”
Leclerc is hoping Mugello proves as difficult to overtake on as many have been predicting — despite action-packed Formula 2 and Formula 3 races — in order to help him defend his position in the race.
“There’s a good opportunity, but on the other hand if we look at the race pace of the other teams on Friday, they are quite a lot of cars that are stronger. It’s going to be difficult to keep them behind, but that’s my job in the car and I’ll give everything.”