Leclerc surprised Ferrari outpaced McLaren in Austin F1 qualifying

Charles Leclerc says he was surprised that Ferrari beat McLaren in Formula 1 qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.

Leclerc surprised Ferrari outpaced McLaren in Austin F1 qualifying

Ferrari grabbed the initiative in the ongoing battle for third in the world championship at Austin when, after recovering from a difficult day, Leclerc qualified fifth, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz and the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris.

All four men subsequently gained a place from a grid penalty for Valtteri Bottas.

The only downside for Ferrari was that Sainz progressed from Q2 with the unfavoured soft tyres, having failed to improve when he ran the mediums used by the other frontrunners.

"It's been a great day. It's not been an easy day," said Leclerc. "But it's been a great end to a tricky day. In FP3 I lost the confidence in the car, especially in the second run of FP3, where I lost the rear end basically everywhere.

"And then through qualifying, I gained that confidence again and managed to put that lap in the in the last lap. So very, very happy with today."

Regarding being ahead of the McLarens, he said: "It was a surprise, because we expected the McLarens to be stronger than us this weekend on this track.

"And well, it's not the case for now. So yeah, we still need to do a good race tomorrow, but it was a surprise for us to be in front of them in quali."

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Asked by Motorsport.com if Ferrari being in front was also a surprise for McLaren, Ricciardo insisted that it was too close to call.

"I don't really have any expectation after Friday," said the Australian. "Obviously it's nice having a good Friday, but you just never know, and even if we were faster yesterday, you don't know if track conditions could change and maybe that swings into Ferrari's favour.

"So I never too caught up in it. We're very close on most tracks that we go to, so I do expect them to always be there, and obviously today they had that extra tenth or two over us.

"But I'm hoping that changes tomorrow over the course of the race and we can be the hunters."

"It's not really that surprising," said Norris. I" think we knew it was going to be very close. After P3 this morning they looked a lot more where they should be.

"So not a surprise, but of course we were definitely hoping to be that bit ahead, we had that confidence to be that little bit ahead of them.

"It was close. It wasn't like it was huge margins like it was in Turkey. Just gutted to be behind because we definitely had the potential to be ahead, but we weren't."

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl suggested that Sainz's tyre strategy might create an opportunity for his drivers to jump ahead of the Spaniard.

"I think we should have a good race car for Daniel and for Lando," he said. "And try obviously to get ahead of one or the other Ferrari. It will be interesting how it goes for Carlos, starting on the soft tyres, it is an opportunity for us. A

"And then obviously, it will be interesting if there's anything we can do to keep Valtteri behind, which will be tricky or difficult, because he is clearly having a faster car.

"But as you have seen several times already this year, there is always a chance.

"So looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow, challenging race as well, it will be interesting how tyre management and strategy will play out. Objective is clear, to try to move forward."

shares
comments
Why a misunderstood Kimi Raikkonen will thrive in retirement
Previous article

Why a misunderstood Kimi Raikkonen will thrive in retirement

Next article

How Vettel won the battle not to start last in US GP

How Vettel won the battle not to start last in US GP
Load comments
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021