Leclerc was ‘best of the rest’ in qualifying behind Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, while Carlos Sainz qualified sixth.

The Monegasque driver endured his worst qualifying session of the season last time out in Portugal as he qualified eighth.

He blamed his poor qualifying performance at Portimao for how he approached the race weekend and how he tackled the windy conditions.

 

 

When asked if his slight change in approach to qualifying worked, Leclerc said: “Yes, it worked well for me. Q1 and Q2 for me was all about trying to focus to try and get the fastest lap without damaging the tyres, because it will be very important to have a good set for the race start.

“I was trying to do the best possible job without damaging the tyres, and it worked out, I was very happy with my Q2 lap to go through with a clean lap. Then, in Q3, once I pushed a bit more, the car just came together and then the lap time arrived.

“I think the best lap was probably on the scrubbed set. The first run was very, very good, and then on the new one, I did a few mistakes in the last sector, but overall, a good day for us.”

Ferrari looks to have the third-fastest car in Barcelona and Sainz believes the lack of straights is helping the SF21’s performance.

“Yes, I think partially it’s there are less straight in this track, and that is helping our relative competitiveness to be a bit higher, but, as you guys can see, in the last sector the car is quite competitive, it’s working well in the corners and we actually had a pretty decent balance all weekend,” Sainz added.

“We are carrying a bit of a deficit in the race, in terms of tyre management, we’re still not where we want to be. In Portimão we struggled a lot and we saw on Friday, again, we don’t have the best of race paces or tyre degradation. But, at the same time, if we get a good start and execute the strategy well, I still think we can finish in front of the rest.”