Charles Leclerc admits he put more pressure on himself by making an error in qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The championship leader was on a strong opening lap in Q3 but spun at the final chicane and had to return to the pits, leaving him without a provisional lap time to ahead of the final runs. But Leclerc still pulled out an excellent last attempt to go over 0.3s clear of Max Verstappen – who had a DRS issue – and secure pole ahead of his title rival.
“I just wanted to do the exact same lap again without the mistake, because it was already quite a good lap before that,” Leclerc said. “But I over-pushed in Turn 14 and lost the rear, so obviously there was a little bit more pressure for the last run because you know you have only got one chance.
“But the car was amazing, very tricky in the high speed and I had quite a lot of moments but apart from that it was very good for the medium and low-speed corners so very happy with that lap and to have made it work on the only chance I had.”
Explaining his spin, Leclerc says he had taken too much speed into the corner and compounded the error, but doesn’t believe it cost him much at the same spot on his final run.
“I over-pushed a bit too much the lap before so I just took it a bit easier in the entry compared to the lap before. I locked the rears a little bit so I arrived a bit too long into the corner and tried to do an aggressive turn-in but I just lost the rear.
“So I tried to brake a bit earlier, take it a bit easy. I know I was on a good lap, so yeah maybe there was a little bit in there but not too much, I think I was pretty happy with all the lap to be honest.
“I felt like there was a lot more grip compared to the laps before I had done because I didn’t have a new set since Q1, so the track evolution was quite big. I just tried to go for it in the last corner.
“The overheating was quite bad but I don’t think there are any excuses, I just tried to do too much and I lost it. But no big deal.”
Leclerc only did one run in Q2 to save a new set of soft tires for the race start, and he’s hopeful that Ferrari has found a step forward in terms of race pace since Friday too.
“Well we’ve done a bit of a long run this morning which was much better compared to yesterday. Unfortunately we didn’t have any other references because we were the only ones doing long runs this morning, but it feels like we found something.
“Whether it’s going to be enough to challenge Max and Checo I don’t know, but the feeling was better. This is positive, but I don’t know whether it will be enough or not.”