Charles Leclerc says it is difficult to find an explanation for Ferrari’s “big step back” in performance during qualifying for Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Following a hugely challenging Friday, Ferrari’s woes at Spa-Francorchamps continued into qualifying as the Scuderia failed to get at least one of its cars into Q3 for the first time this season.

Leclerc was only 13th-fastest ahead of four-times world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, who only outpaced George Russell’s Williams by two-tenths.

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“It’s very difficult to find an explanation,” Leclerc said. “It’s a big step back compared to the others so we need to try and find the main issue, try and address it.

“It’s not a good day but it’s like this at the moment. We need to keep working very hard. I think everyone in the team needs to keep their heads up even though it’s very difficult in tough times like this.

“I can also understand the fans at home that are very disappointed. It’s understandable but as drivers we will try and make the best race possible tomorrow even though we can’t expect any miracles.”

Vettel had sat 19th after the first runs in Q1 but managed to avoid an embarrassing Q1 elimination with a lap that was good enough to get through to the second segment.

“It is the true picture, it’s what the car can do around here today,” Vettel admitted. “Obviously we tried everything we can and a lot of effort going in from last night to today, trying to make things better.

“I think we did a little bit, but obviously we’re not where we want to be, but that’s not the first race and the first qualifying where that’s the case.

“We tried to do our best, it’s obviously the car we have and the car we know for the whole season so far. So it’s not a surprise today.”