Charles Leclerc says his eighth place in qualifying for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix is a more realistic indication of how fast Ferrari is right now.
Just one week after Leclerc qualified fourth and finished third for Ferrari at the British GP, the Italian outfit has had a more challenging time this weekend as it has struggled with the softer compound tyres.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the session, Leclerc said he was not particularly shocked that he had been unable to repeat last weekend’s result.
“Surprise? No,” Leclerc said. “I think it’s a bit more realistic picture for us to be honest. We have been struggling more than last week here, especially with the softer tyres.
“We seem to be more aggressive on them and we don’t even manage to finish the full lap in Q3 with the soft tyres. They are dropping off quite a lot in the last sector. I lost quite a lot of lap time there, so not much we can do for now. It’s like this.”
Leclerc suggested that Ferrari’s low downforce set up for this weekend has not helped with looking after the tyres, but reckons that adding more downforce would have made its cars too slow on the straights.
Due to the tyre struggles, Leclerc said he was bracing himself for an especially tough race.
“Tomorrow will be a very difficult race,” he said. “It’s hard to finish the qualifying lap, and it will be very difficult to keep up with the others in the race. But we remain optimistic. I will try my best and see where we end up.
“I think there will be drivers who will take risks and try to make only one pitstop tomorrow, while others will make two. I can’t say which strategy we will choose, but we have analysed the data and we are sure about which strategy to adopt.”
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel had no better luck this weekend after a torrid time in the British GP. He qualified 12th, but will move up a position after Esteban Ocon was handed a three-place grid drop for impeding George Russell in Q1.
Speaking about his hopes for the race, Vettel said he had not given up on a decent fight, but was aware that he was not doing much better than last time out.
“I’m always optimistic,” he told Sky Sports F1. “I try to reset myself as much as I can. So I hope for a better day tomorrow, but I think since last week we’re pretty much where we are now.
“We were not able to make a step forward and tried lots of things, and tried lots of things in the car. I think looking at the positives, I was happy with my laps and it felt like everything that there was. I had worse laps in my life and finished a lot higher up. So I’m happy with that.”