Leclerc plays down Sainz' role in pole lap


Charles Leclerc has said that teammate Carlos Sainz' role in his pole-winning lap was not crucial.

Aware that he was going to be starting the race from the back of the field after taking on a new engine, Sainz still wanted to play his part.

As if to prove a point, in Q2 he posted a time almost a full second than anyone else.

However, even though there was no need to even run in Q3, he went out twice, slowly leading his Ferrari teammate around the track before finally letting rip and towing the second Ferrari down the second part of the Mistral Straight after the chicane and through Turn 10.

Twice the Spaniard got it inch perfect, and twice his teammate benefitted, claiming pole with the second attempt.

However, speaking at session end, Leclerc, who out-paced Max Verstappen by 0.304s, played down the need for his teammate's help.

"I think the advantage of the tow was around 0.2s compared to Q2," said the Monegasque. "So it's significant and it would have been a lot more tight with Max without the tow. So it was a nice help anyway.

"It's quite tricky to get it exactly right," he admitted. "The first lap we were a bit too close in Turns 8 and 9, so I lost a bit there and just drove not in the best way possible. On the second lap we adapted that and then it was better, and that was the lap. So we did a good job communication-wise, and also Carlos helping me was amazing."

Despite claiming pole, and coming off the back of his win in Austria, Leclerc knows he faces a tough race.

"I think it will be tricky because the Red Bull guys were very, very quick in the race simulations they did in practice.

"We worked a little bit on the car for the race, so hopefully it will go better for us tomorrow.

"Tyre management was good for us in Austria and we struggled a bit more yesterday, but we think we have done a significant step up since tomorrow for yesterday."

Asked of Red Bull had considered a similar strategy, Verstappen said: "No, I mean, we are both of course trying to get the best possible qualifying result.

"It's a bit different," he added, "Carlos is starting in the back. So, I think it was a smart thing to do. And probably if one of us, you know, had to start in the back, something similar can happen as well."

Asked if Leclerc's 0.304s pole advantage was mainly down to the tow, the world champion said: "I don't think it's 0.3. Of course, it's quite a bit. Maybe Charles can tell you more, exactly how much it is.

"Overall, I just look at myself, of course, you know, what we have done better. And I think overall, that final lap was, first of all, not a clean lap, just by being on the limit or trying to find that limit I just had like two moments, which cost me a bit of lap time. Those things, we have to figure out why they happen and how can we make it more predictable, let's say it like that. But I mean, we still have two cars in the top three. So that's good."

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Published: 24/07/2022
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