Leclerc says gap to Red Bull is bigger than it looks
JEDDA, Saudi Arabia. Charles Leclerc was given little consolation by Sergio Pérez’s 0.155-second qualifying gap from pole position at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, claiming that Ferrari was far more behind Red Bull than was thought on Saturday.
Leclerc was second fastest but dropped to 12th on the grid with a ten-place penalty after reliability issues at the Bahrain Grand Prix led to him exceeding the amount of control electronics allowed for the season.
Despite a clear improvement over Red Bull after the season opener in Bahrain, with Leclerc 0.3 seconds off pole position, the Ferrari driver was wary of his team’s progress after reigning champion Max Verstappen was pulled out of qualifying due to cardan shaft failure. .
“I put everything on my knees, but I feel that the gap that we see between Cheko and me is not real, I think the gap is much bigger,” he said. “And ultimately my goal is to beat Red Bull, not finish second, third, fourth or whatever. So there is still a lot of work to do before reaching their level.”
Leclerc said Ferrari was on par with Mercedes, Aston Martin and Alpine in race speed, but expects Verstappen, who starts 15th, to make his way through the field.
“For tomorrow we have a penalty of ten places on the grid, so I will start the race a little behind, but I will do absolutely everything to get back in the lead.
“We will also have Max behind, but the Red Bulls are now in their own league, so I’m pretty sure that he will return to the fore pretty quickly. As for us, we will try to focus on ourselves, we are more or less at the same racing pace as Alpine, Mercedes and Aston Martin, so it should be a good fight, but let’s wait and see tomorrow.”