Leclerc reassured Ferrari that 'it's under control'

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari celebrates his pole position in qualifying parc ferme.
© XPB 

Charles Leclerc may be one of the youngest drivers on the Formula 1 grid this season, but when it came to qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix it was the 21-year-old who oozed cool, calm confidence.

"He's massively motived," Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto told Sky Sports F1. "I knew before the qualie that he should be careful, no mistakes - I just told him, don't overdrive.

"He said, 'No, Mattia, stay calm, it's under control!' And he's showing that he's under control and very fast."

With everyone trying to exploit the slipstream advantage for their flying laps down Spa's famous superlong high-speed straights, it was Leclerc who made the decision to simply ditch the strategy and go it alone.

"At first I really targeted the perfect slipstream,' he said later when reviewing the events of the final top ten shoot-out round on Saturday afternoon.

"But after that I felt the tyres were not ready for Turn 1 and I actually lost quite a bit of time.

"So for the second run in Q3 I asked to be sent whenever the car was ready, to be alone and try to do the job alone without slipstreams.

"In my opinion, on my car, it felt better to have tyres in the right window than having the slipstream so we went as soon as possible.

"It felt good. Obviously the first sector was not exactly what I wanted, especially in the first corner.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF90 celebrates his pole position in qualifying parc ferme.

"We had to go very slow to prepare the lap because there was a lot of traffic," he explained. "I struggled quite a bit but after that from the second corner onwards we were strong and it felt amazing.

"That's what I asked in the garage, actually - not to not really care about the slipstream. It was too much of a mess to prepare the tyres and the lap overall, so I wanted to be alone and it worked out so I’m very happy.

"The start of the lap was always very, very messy, because there was quite a lot of traffic with all the cars around.

"But at the end I managed to do the full lap correctly, and I'm very happy. I definitely did not expect to be that much ahead but very happy with my lap anyway."

However Leclerc is aware that Ferrari is unlikely to enjoy the same sort of advantage over Mercedes and Red Bull in tomorrow's race.

Straight line speed is less of a factor when it comes to race conditions, and Ferrari's long distance runs on Friday during practice also confirmed that things will most likely be a lot closer in the Grand Prix.

"We were struggling a little bit more for the race pace yesterday so we need to work on that," he acknowledged.

"But yeah, looking at the pace today, I’m pretty sure we’ll be strong."

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