Charles Leclerc narrowly missed another pole position at the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP.
However, the Monegasque will face a 10-place penalty for new drivetrain components, putting him in P12 for the race.
Leclerc has proved his team has the pace to appear on the front row in Jeddah but will miss that opportunity due to his starting penalty. The Ferrari driver had a sad time in all three practice sessions this weekend but showed his true pace in qualifying.
Max Verstappen was once again the talk of the session, but not for his incredible pace. The Dutchman suffered a drive shaft issue in Q2, which resulted in his retirement from qualifying. The Red Bull driver will start the race from P15 while his teammate Sergio Perez clinched pole position at Jeddah for the second straight season.
Charles Leclerc claims his team is still struggling compared to Red Bull but is proud of the lap he set at the end of Q3.
Speaking to Khalil Beshir at Parc Ferme after the event, Charles Leclerc said:
“Happy? Yes and no. On the one hand it was a very difficult weekend for us in terms of pace, but I’m very happy with my lap. I think I really put everything into it. It was really on the limit. On the other hand, Red Bull on another planet. And we fight a little bit.”
“We have to keep pushing, but we’re doing it as a team. It won’t be easy tomorrow. I have a 10 grid penalty so we will start a bit further back but we will focus on the race.”
Charles Leclerc denies claims Ferrari should give up in 2023
Charles Leclerc has dismissed the idea that Ferrari should abandon its quest for the 2023 F1 title and turn its attention to the 2024 season. Although he did not fare well in Bahrain, where he was more than half a second behind Max Verstappen in race trim and had to retire due to an engine failure, the Ferrari driver remains true to his goals for the current season.
Adding to his problems, Leclerc will be penalized with a ten-place grid penalty at Jeddah for having new drivetrain components. As a result, the driver will start P12, just three places clear of his 2022 title rival Max Verstappen.
When it was suggested by Motorsport.com that Ferrari could focus on the 2024 season, Charles Leclerc fired back:
“We are just at the beginning of the World Championship and there are so many races before the end of this season; We have to fight like crazy to get back on top and keep going. I really think we can fight this season because we only did the first race.”
Charles Leclerc added:
“Sure things didn’t go the way we wanted and when Ferrari doesn’t go the way it should there are a lot of rumors in the team but we have to be positive and use our energy wisely.”
“We have to push in the same direction, make a difference and come back stronger. I think all of that has been the case over the past few weeks so I can’t wait to get back on track, stop talking and ride again.
It will be interesting to see if Charles Leclerc can fend off an attacking Max Verstappen in Sunday’s feature race.