Despite claiming a 23rd pole position with a 1:32.726s lap time around the streets of Las Vegas, Scuderia Ferrar’s Charles Leclerc was “disappointed” with his performance in the Q3 top-10 shootout.
Leclerc will line up on the front of the grid for the Las Vegas Grand Prix alongside Max Verstappen who will line up second despite abandoning his final Q3 run and finishing with the third fastest time.
Carlos Sainz set the second-fastest time in qualifying, just 0.044s shy of Leclerc, but a 10-place grid penalty means he’ll start the race from 12th.
However, even though Leclerc claimed yet another pole position, the Monagasque driver felt he left more lap time on the table after getting out of the car.
“Obviously, it’s an incredible event and to be starting from pole tomorrow is great,” he said.
“However, a bit disappointed with my laps in Q3.
“I didn’t do a good enough job, but it was enough for P1.
“So that’s all we need.
“I think my best lap was in Q2, which the track evolution is big here, so I should have done it in Q3, but I didn’t.
“But again, it’s like this and we are starting from pole, so I cannot complain.”
Pole sitter Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23 arrives in parc ferme. 17.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Qualifying Day. – www.xpbimages.com, EMail: email@example.com © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images
Despite the disappointment of not extracting his true pace in Q3, Leclerc has said that he’s felt comfortable from the minute he took to the track in the shortened FP1 session.
“To be honest, I felt confident from the first lap in FP1,” he said.
“So the car has been great.
“Having said that, we are always very strong in quali.
“But then we obviously know what our weaknesses are in the race.
“And this is still to be seen tomorrow.
“But the car has felt great overall until now.
So I really hope we can, we can have a good race.”
A 23rd pole position for Leclerc gives him a chance to fight Verstappen for victory in the Vegas GP, but the Monagasque driver is right to be wary of Verstappen and Red Bull come race day.
Leclerc is yet to add to his five GP victories, with his last triumph coming in Austria last year.
Verstappen meanwhile, has won 17 races in 2023 and Red Bull has won all but one of the Grands Prix this year, with the only outlier being Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz in Singapore.
Even with the stats stacked against him, Leclerc is confident heading into the Grand Prix, but is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead.
“Well, the confidence is high because we are starting first,” he said.
“On the other hand, we know that Red Bull is going to be very strong, and Max obviously is going to be very strong in race pace.
“But I feel like we’ve had positive signs this weekend on the high fuel, more than other races.
“So I hope we can convert that pole position into a win.”
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23. 17.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Qualifying Day. – www.xpbimages.com, EMail: firstname.lastname@example.org © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
Leclerc is the first Formula 1 polesitter on the brand new Las Vegas street circuit and has enjoyed the track thus far, and hopes it can provide an entertaining race.
“I think street tracks are my favourites,” he said.
“When I first saw the layout, I was like, this is going to be a boring track.
“But then from the first laps on the simulator, it felt good and I like the kerb riding there is in 6, 7, 8, 9.
“Yeah, I think it’s a good track.
“I hope it will produce good racing.
“Yesterday it wasn’t as easy as I would have expected to overtake but let’s wait and see tomorrow.”