Charles Leclerc admits he had no idea that Ferrari had the potential to take pole position even starting Q3 at the Mexico City Grand Prix.
Success on Saturday in Mexico makes it two pole positions in a row for Leclerc who was also fastest in Austin last weekend, although he faded in the race to finish sixth before a post-race disqualification. On that occasion, Leclerc had looked quick from early in the session but Ferrari’s Q3 pace at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez came as a surprise.
“It’s a really big surprise but we keep saying that every time we get a pole position so people will stop believing what we say!” he joked. “I did not expect it…until really late in the session. I think in other sessions in Q1 we were on it and then we saw we had the potential for pole position, but today, until Q3, we had no idea that it was inside the car.
“For some reason in Q3 I managed to put more or less everything together apart from the last sector and the lap time came straight away. Then I was a bit surprised, but I think it still shows us that our car is still a bit peaky and we need to work in that direction to make it better in all conditions.”
With the front row often at risk from the cars directly behind due to the slipstream effect on the long run to Turn 1, Leclerc believes he has the ability to fight for victory if he retains the lead off the line. However, both he and teammate Carlos Sainz are wary of overcomplicating the start with pre-agreed plans.
“Well I hope so. It’s a very difficult race; everything can happen, especially with the cooling where whichever car is behind will really need more management,” he said. “It can work in our favor, but for that we will need to get a good start, and starting first here is always tricky to keep that position into the first corner. We have had pretty good starts this year so I am confident that we can keep that first place into Turn 1 and then we will try and do our best race.
“To be honest, we haven’t discussed yet and we will discuss about it, but at the same time it is very difficult to predict what is going to happen. It is basically a result of how good a start we will have and then we’ll adapt. Obviously we won’t take too many risks between the cars, but apart from that it’s difficult to plan what’s happening at the start. It depends if I have a good start, if I have a bad start, so it’s difficult to plan.”