Charles Leclerc will start Sunday’s São Paulo Grand Prix (start time 14 local, 18 CET) from the front row in second place and Carlos Sainz lines up on the fourth row in eighth spot. Qualifying was closely contested up to the final part when the rain meant the ten drivers were only able to get in one run, thus mixing things up a bit.
From Q1 to Q3. The gaps were incredibly close, partly down to the fact the track is only 4.309 kilometres long and Q1 set a record for being the closest ever Formula 1 session with just 185 thousandths of a second covering the top 15. Nevertheless, Charles and Carlos comfortably got through to the next stage on their first run, whereas in Q2, almost all drivers had to go for three runs. The Ferrari pair made the cut to Q3, with two sets of new Soft tyres available and went out on track immediately as the rain was clearly coming soon. It was clear that there would only be time for one run before the storm hit. Charles did very well and even with the strengthening wind meaning it was almost impossible not to make a mistake, he posted a time of 1’11”021 to secure a place on the front row alongside Max Verstappen. Carlos was eighth fastest in 1’11”989.
Sprint Saturday. Tomorrow sees the final Sprint of the season, with the day entirely given over to it. The Shootout to define the grid takes place at 11 (15 CET) and the 24 lap short Sprint race gets underway at 15.30. Weather permitting, it should provide valuable data for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc #16
It was a good qualifying. Q1 was smooth, we only used one set of Softs and put in a solid lap with a car that felt great, after we had made quite a few changes to the setup after FP1. In Q2, we pretty much just put a lap on the board.
Then came a strange experience. In Q3, the wind change was really sudden, there was no grip from sector two onwards. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of balance once I entered a corner, but I kept it tidy so P2 is not bad considering.
Carlos Sainz #55
I am very disappointed as I was feeling good in the car, but we missed a good opportunity. The storm arrived very quickly, the wind picked up a lot and it caught me out during the lap. I tried to keep it together but it was extremely tricky and the lap was not good.
We were one of the last cars in the queue in the pitlane and every second counts in these situations. It is what it is and now it’s time to focus on tomorrow.
Frédéric Vasseur – Team Principal
Qualifying was very close up to Q3, when the rain played its part, but again today we saw that we are competitive over a flying lap. The position of our garage in pit lane worked against us in Q3 as we found a whole queue of cars ahead of us and that made life more difficult for our drivers when it came to managing tyre temperature.
Everyone only got one run in, but Charles did very well to manage his car and secure a front row start. The fact he did not think he’d done a good lap as he crossed the finish line says a lot about how difficult it was to drive in these conditions. Carlos’ lap was not quite as good and so he will start from eighth.
Tomorrow we will be focussing on the Sprint which will be our first opportunity to see how the car behaves in race trim, which is where we have suffered most in recent races.
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