Charles Leclerc says qualifying fifth for Formula 1’s Tuscan Grand Prix goes beyond his Ferrari team’s expectations for its 1000th world championship race.

Leclerc progressed into Q3 for the first time in three races and set the fifth-fastest time with a strong final flying lap that saw him outqualify both Racing Point cars.

It marked the Monegasque’s best qualifying result of the season since he claimed fourth in qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

"I'm very happy, very happy with the lap overall," Leclerc said.

"I put everything together and P5 was definitely above any of our expectations. So very, very happy.

"Monza and Spa was extremely difficult for the whole team. I struggled massively to drive the car with those low downforce settings, [it was] very difficult with the balance.

"Here we managed to put the balance right and it felt very good in the car. We are lacking overall performance to be able to fight with the guys in front, but the balance was very good today.

"It gave me confidence and I could give my best on that qualy lap. But it was tricky, because the first lap in Q3, I was with old tyres.

"So then to go from old to new, it was tricky, but at the end we made it happen."

Ferrari has failed to score points at the last two races after its struggles at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.

Leclerc admitted it will be difficult to keep some faster cars behind him but is hopeful of ending the Scuderia’s recent barren run.

“There’s a good opportunity, but on the other hand if we look at the race pace of the other teams on Friday, they are quite a lot of cars that are stronger from us,” he explained.

“It’s going to be difficult to keep them behind, but that’s my job in the car and I’ll give everything.”

In contrast to Leclerc’s efforts, Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel could only qualify 14th on the grid as he dropped out in Q2.

"It is a bit of a fight, but it's a fight the whole year," Vettel said.

"We try nevertheless to do everything we can, to understand the car a bit more.

"I try to do anything I can driving to adapt, but I think there's still more to do."

 

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