Leclerc: Ferrari sacrificed Austrian GP F1 qualifying for strategic advantage

Charles Leclerc admits he didn’t expect to progress into Q3 in Formula 1 qualifying at the Austrian Grand Prix as Ferrari decided to sacrifice a better starting position for a potential strategic advantage on race day.
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari.
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari.

Both Ferraris were knocked out of qualifying with Carlos Sainz ahead of Charles Leclerc in 11th and 12th place.

Unlike some of its rivals, Ferrari tried to progress into Q3 on the medium tyre rather than guarantee a spot in the top ten on the soft.

Both Aston Martins and the two AlphaTauris will start on the C5 soft tyre, while the Red Bulls, Norris, the two Mercedes and Russell will start the race on the mediums.

Reflecting on qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, Leclerc conceded that Ferrari sacrificed it in hope of a better race.

“No, we had a second run on the mediums,” Leclerc told Sky Sports F1. “We kind of expected to not go to Q3 with these medium sets but that was a bit of our strategy for this qualifying for tomorrow to have free tyre choice as we think this will benefit us more than going into Q3 today.”

Leclerc was surprised by the performance of Russell as he was able to progress into the pole position shootout on the harder compound.

“It was quite a good lap but somehow on the mediums the others were just quicker,” Leclerc added. “They seemed to be very, very quick. Williams was very impressive with George getting into Q3 on a medium. We didn’t expect that so it’s a bit of a shame.”

Sainz was disappointed not to make Q3 despite the priority for Ferrari was not starting on the soft.

“Our priority number one was not to start with the softs today and we managed to at least get that priority right,” Sainz explained. “Unfortunately we would have liked to have been a bit more in front but for 0.006s I am not extremely happy about not making it through with the mediums and then putting it in the top six or top seven in qualifying, with a medium tyre to start.

“It’s fine details in Formula 1 and today I felt like from my side we did a lot of progress compared to last week. I managed to find a lot of lap time in the high-speed corners compared to last week and I was solid straight away from Q1 but I just missed those 0.006s to make it through, that would have changed completely the picture.”

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