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Leclerc doubts: Is the Pole in Sochi a disadvantage?

Charles Leclerc succeeds in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix in the fourth consecutive round. The Ferrari pilot will start from the pole position in Sochi, thus maintaining his pole quota of one hundred percent in the second half of the season. Since Belgium, the Monegasse has been unsuccessful in time training. With respect from 0452 seconds Sebastian Vettel ranks third behind Lewis Hamilton.

The car felt great. It’s great to be back on the pole,”Leclerc rejoices immediately after the Q3-end. Shortly before, however, he was still angry. On the radio, he was like, “Shit! I completely screwed up the last sector!”

The advance from the first two sectors is sufficient: in the first section of the line Vettel takes off a tenth of a contract, in the second almost two and also in the third sector he is almost a tenth faster than the German. This explains his lead from over four tenths in the Ferrari duel.

Leclerc: “This feels very special”

Only in the third sector, the most curved part of the line, Leclerc cannot set an absolute best time. It succeeds Lewis Hamilton, who is one and a half tenths faster on his fastest lap. However, the Mercedes pilot does not reach the Monegasses: 0402 seconds delay.

Ferrari team leader Mattia Binotto is “surprised” by Leclerc’s strength in the “Sky” interview. He’s really very fast. This is great for a team, if you can rely on such a fast driver.”As a pilot, this can compensate for the weaknesses of the bolt.” Since the beginning of the season he has improved very much.”


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Leclerc worked hard especially on his qualification weakness, as he described in detail before Saturday. He listed the following reasons as success factors: Ferrari has adapted the SF90 more to its driving style, He also has a better timing and the right mental attitude.

Four pole positions in series for Ferrari recently created a certain Michael Schumacher in the 2000/2001 years. “This, of course, feels very special. But I don’t want to think about it at all,”winks the 21-year-old. He doesn’t want to be compared to the record champion.

“I just want to focus on my job, tomorrow we have a lot of work ahead of us. That’s a good start. We have been very competitive all weekend, the racing simulation has also looked positive, so it looks good for tomorrow,”he summarises.

Leclerc is happy about the ninth victory over Vettel in qualifying, but he also doubts his starting position:”I am not sure if this is the best track, to stand on the pole,”he ponders.

Media at the start:”This surprised us!”

“The straight line is quite long up to the first curve. Tomorrow the start will be even more important than usual.”For the shade of wind plays an important role in Sochi. Hamilton has already announced that he wants to take advantage of this.

On Friday Leclerc was positively attracted by the long run pace of the SF90. He spoke of the “best Longrun” in a Friday training 2019. In the official analysis, the red is predicted on average a slight delay on Mercedes of 0,3 seconds per lap.

Nevertheless, the team has the advantage of the engine powered on the straight, which could be decisive at the start. After qualifying, Hamilton even talked about a “jet mode” and no more “party mode”. Mercedes team leader Toto Wolff also confirmed that his drivers would lose about seven to eight tenths on the Ferrari straight.


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“We definitely have an advantage in this area,” says team leader Binotto. “More about this: We’ve developed our car so we can get straight. We certainly have less air resistance and drift.”

Thanks to the latest aero package that was introduced in Singapore, Ferrari can now generate more drift in the curves.” That way we lose less in the curves. The overall balance is positive.”Therefore, the team was able to keep the lag in sector 3 within limits.

Another advantage for Leclerc and Vettel at the start: the soft tires. While Mercedes qualified for the top ten in Q2, the Reds chose the Soft. Your choice surprised us. We have not considered this,”Binotto admits.

Vettel:”Didn’t get the absolute maximum out”

Ferrari thus sees itself in the advantage:”We believe that the soft provides a grip advantage at the start. The launch will be the key to success tomorrow. Let’s see, maybe they made the right choice. At least there are different strategies, what will be exciting for the fans.”

Tire manufacturer Pirelli has issued a stepping strategy with start on the Soft and a switch between the rounds 15 to 19 on the hard tires as the fastest strategy for tomorrow’s race.

As already with his victory in Singapore Sebastian Vettel goes from starting place three into the Run! The German already experienced a mature session in Q1. He had to stop two quick attempts and could only end up on soft tires at the top.

In Q2 he drew a tenth of a second delay on Leclerc, in Q3 his delay grew. He was unable to rise in the last attempt and was thus overtaken by Hamilton.” I’m not entirely happy, of course. Because I think that I could not get the absolute maximum out of the car.”

Like a week ago, the German could not continue at the decisive moment. The fact that he could not assert himself against his teammates in the ninth consecutive qualifying period was not a recurring “pattern.” Of course we did not have the best session on my side.”

“Charles was faster today, and you can quite clearly see where that was the case. A little here and there.”He couldn’t see a pattern that his teammate was faster and faster, especially in a certain type of curve. What reassures him: “The speed is there.”