Leclerc laments Ferrari workload

Charles Leclerc feels Ferrari still has a lot of work to do despite his impressive qualifying for the Saudi Arabian GP

Charles Leclerc feels the upcoming workload for Ferrari is heavy despite his impressive qualifying for the Saudi Arabian GP

Charles Leclerc feels Ferrari still has “a lot of work to do” despite an encouraging performance in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Leclerc finished second-quickest at the conclusion of the one-lap showdown around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with only Sergio Perez in his Red Bull faster by 0.155s.

Leclerc, however, falls to 12th on the grid for the race after being hit with a 10-place penalty for taking another control electronics unit in his SF-23 that is beyond the prescribed limit.

Max Verstappen would almost certainly have taken pole position given the speed he has shown so far this weekend but for a driveshaft failure sustained during the second segment of qualifying.

Asked whether he was happy with his qualifying performance given he was so close to Perez, Leclerc replied: “Happy? Yes and no.

“On one hand, it’s been a very difficult weekend in terms of pace for us.

“I’m very happy about my lap, I think I put everything in it. It was really, really on the limit.

“On the other hand, Red Bull is on another planet, and we are struggling a little bit, so we need to keep pushing. But that’s what we are doing as a team.

“The race is not going to be easy. I have a 10-place grid penalty, so we’ll be starting a little further back. But we’ll focus on the race and hopefully come back to the front as quickly as possible.”

Leclerc dismisses podium bid

As to whether he was encouraged by the pace of his SF-23 at this circuit, Leclerc replied: “Not that much.

“So there’s still a lot of work to do. Having said that, I think it’s a bit better than what we expected for the qualifying session. We expected to be a bit further back. But there’s a lot of work to do.

“If you ask me to pinpoint one thing, it’s very difficult. It’s just that we were quite slow, just overall grip to be honest.”

After retiring in the season-opening race in Bahrain, Leclerc is naturally desperate to break his points duck for this year.

From 12th on the grid, while a top-10 finish is comfortably on the cards, Leclerc feels a podium is a long shot.

“For Carlos, it’s definitely possible,” said Leclerc on team-mate Sainz who lines up fourth. “He’s starting a bit further up.

“On my side, realistically, it’s going to be a bit more difficult, especially once I arrive around the top cars because there, the race pace is very similar to everybody.

“However, our race pace looks better than Bahrain, so I think we’ll be a bit better on that. But for me, we are still too far in qualifying compared to what I would like to be, especially compared to Red Bull.”

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