Charles Leclerc believes prioritising the state of his tyres over attempting to benefit from a slipstream helped result in his dominant display during Belgian Grand Prix qualifying.

Leclerc stormed to pole position by 0.748s over Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel, having improved on his second run in Q3. While many drivers were looking for a tow boost along Spa’s long straights, Leclerc specifically asked his team not to follow the same tactic, instead focusing on his tyre preparation.

“Well it obviously feels amazing. But it was very tricky, especially in Q3, I struggled quite a lot,” Leclerc explained.

"The start of the lap was always very, very messy because there was a lot of traffic with all the cars around, but at the end I managed to do the full lap correctly and I’m very happy.

“I definitely did not expect to be that much ahead, but very happy with my lap anyway.

"At first I really targeted the perfect slipstream on the first run in Q3, but after that, I really felt that the tyres weren’t ready for Turn 1 and I actually lost quite a bit of time,” he added.

“So, then for the second run in Q3, I just asked the team to send me whenever the car was ready to be alone, and to try to do the job alone without slipstreams.

“In my opinion, on my car, it felt better to have the tyres in the right window than having a slipstream, so we went as soon as possible, but we found anyway some cars in front.”

Leclerc has previously said he needs to work on his race pace after admitting it is one area of weakness compared to Vettel. The Monegasque hopes he can fare better after analysing his performance at the last race in Hungary.

“I think we have been quick since FP1, but once we did the race simulations in FP2, we weren’t as quick,” he said.

“So I think it’s not going to be easy tomorrow. We’ll try to give everything. The gap is quite big today, but it doesn’t mean it will be like that tomorrow.

“We’ll be working hard to try and improve the race run we did yesterday, and we’ll see.

“I’ve been analysing Hungary quite a lot, maybe it looked worse than it actually was, but there’s definitely some work to do on my side on this.

“So we’ll see if tomorrow it pays off. I changed a few things, very small things, but details always make the difference at this level. So we’ll see tomorrow if it’s any better.”

 

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