Leclerc looks to pressure Verstappen during Miami GP

Charles Leclerc believes his performance in the sprint shows he is likely to be able to put Max Verstappen under pressure in Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix.

Verstappen started from pole and won the sprint early on Saturday, but Leclerc offered a threat off the line and then stayed close to the Red Bull for the entirety of the race with only the final lap seeing the gap extend beyond three seconds. After replicating a front-row start for the grand prix, Leclerc says he feels close enough to put up a challenge on Sunday.

“It felt so much on the limit,” Leclerc said. “Obviously it was very close until Q3, where when we started to push for the last one or two tenths, we started to lose the tires in sector two and three, overheating them quite a bit. Sector one was actually feeling really good, but then sector two and three we were losing too much.


“So today, that’s where we lost a little bit of time. However, the race is long tomorrow. This morning we showed a good pace. I hope tomorrow we can put Max under a bit more pressure.

“[The start] and keeping the DRS if we don’t get past by Turn 1 [are key]. DRS is super powerful here. And if we lose it after the first lap, then it’s always difficult to come back within DRS, so we must not lose it. But first of all, there will be the start. This morning we had a good one and tomorrow I’ll try to have an even better one.”

With Carlos Sainz starting ahead of Sergio Perez in third place, Leclerc also feels there could be strategic opportunities for Ferrari in the full race.

“[In] the Sprint race we were a little bit closer to what we normally see,” he said. “However, I also said that Max wasn’t really happy with his car this morning in the sprint race, so we need to see how much of a step forward he does tomorrow, being happier with the car.

“But we did some fine tuning on our side. We’re also confident we did a step forward, so we’ll see. If we have a similar pace like we’ve seen this morning, then I think with strategy you can always put a bit more pressure. I hope that is the case. We’ve got the two cars in the front, so it’s a good opportunity.”

Although Verstappen was one of many drivers complaining about unpredictability on their qualifying laps, he says he feels Red Bull has improved his car following the sprint.

“It definitely felt a bit more connected, a bit more predictable, which hopefully will help me tomorrow in the race,” Verstappen said.

“Honestly, the only thing that we can control is within ourselves, so that’s what we’ll focus on. As long as I’m happy with my balance in the race, I think we’ll be alright. It just needs to be a bit better than what we had today in the race. I think if we can achieve something like that, that we’re in a bit of a happier window, then I’m sure we’ll be quick.”

Story originally appeared on Racer