Leclerc plays down Ferrari’s upturn in fortunes despite qualifying second

Charles Leclerc remains hopeful that Ferrari's race pace can carry the team through the order in 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc played down Ferrari’s upturn in fortunes despite setting the second-fastest time in qualifying for Sunday’s 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. 

Leclerc, who came into the weekend with a ten-place grid penalty after fitting a new electronics component, nearly snatched pole position from Sergio Perez but still believes there is plenty of work to be done.

“Not that much,” Leclerc told the media when asked how happy he was with qualifying second. “[I am] really happy with the lap, it was on the limit, but on the other hand, I think Red Bull is quite far ahead, so there is still a lot of work to do.

“Having said that, I think it’s better than what we expected. We were quite slow and just [lacking grip] overall.”

Hopeful for the race ahead

Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing (C), Second placed Charles Leclerc of Ferrari (L) and Third placed Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin after 2023 qualifying Saudi Arabian GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

With Leclerc starting from 12th and behind several midfield cars, Sunday’s race could be a tough evening’s work, particularly with Max Verstappen three places behind in 15th after he suffered a driveshaft failure in Q2.

However, Ferrari have shown solid race pace throughout the Jeddah meeting and could fight for a spot in the top six if a safety car comes at the right time. 

“I think our race pace is stronger this weekend, so this is a good thing,” said Leclerc.

“I don’t know how easy it’s going to be to overtake on this track because the midfield is extremely close in terms of race pace.

“If you have a DRS train, it makes things very difficult, but I’ll give my best and try to come back to the front as quick as possible, and we’ll see what happens.”

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