Charles Leclerc states he fully expects Lando Norris to be “aggressive” in Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
By wounding up second, Norris landed his highest qualifying result of the season at his home event and his first front-row starting berth since he took pole in Russia in 2021.
Meanwhile, Leclerc had been largely matching Max Verstappen until a small mistake at Stowe saw him end up fourth, behind the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri.
After enduring a torrid time in the wet in Austria last weekend, Leclerc says he was happy with his own performance in the mixed conditions seen through Q1 and Q2 but disappointed with his final Q3 run.
“Well I think there are two sides for me, one happy for Q1 and Q2, not by going through because this is the minimum I should be doing for Ferrari but just by overall feeling in those damp conditions were better, I’ve been working quite a bit in the last few weeks for that as I knew this was one of my weaknesses, and today I felt by changing a few things in terms of tools and driving style this went a bit in my direction and that was a step forward,” he explained.
“I still need to do a step forward, but this was a good step in the right direction.
“In Q3 I maybe did not expect for the sun to go out so much, I went a bit aggressive with the front wing, I lost the rear in some corners and that cost me quite a bit.
“So it’s a shame because I think the front row was possible, but it’s great to see both McLaren in front and I think it should be exciting for tomorrow’s race.”
After Norris converted his fourth-place starting position last time out in Austria, McLaren enjoyed another productive outing with further updates to its MCL60 car.
The Woking-based squad provided the closest challenge to Verstappen and had its two cars qualify inside the top three for the first time since November 2012.
Despite McLaren confirming the remarkable strides it has made, Leclerc asserts that both Norris and rookie team-mate Piastri deserve their fair share of credit for the job they did throughout a tricky qualifying hour.
“Yeah they’ve done a great job and I wouldn’t underestimate also the job that Oscar and Lando has done today because these are conditions that are very, very difficult so both of the drivers have done a great job,” he summarised.
Norris had been on course for top spot until Verstappen aced the final sector to secure his fifth consecutive pole in 2023.
Nevertheless, the McLaren star secured a place on the front row for his home race as he targets a first-ever F1 podium at Silverstone.
Leclerc, who will be aiming to back up his best result of the season from last weekend, admits that he anticipates Norris getting his elbows out if the pair battle for position.
“Of course it’s going to be tricky, Lando is always aggressive in defending, I’ll be as aggressive to try and pass him, let’s see,” he added.
While Ferrari’s promising qualifying exploits earlier in the season were consistently let down by severe tyre degradation woes, the Italian marque has appeared to get on top of its race-day troubles lately.
A promising recovery display in Canada was backed up by a convincing performance in Austria that witnessed both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz come home inside the top four.
But having sat out FP2 due to an electrical problem on his car, Leclerc conceded he is heading slightly blind into race day.
“For me I’m going a bit into the unknown after FP2, so a bit difficult to judge for now.”