Australian Grand Prix: Pole-sitter Charles Leclerc reveals struggles; Max Verstappen says he expects it to be tight

Charles Leclerc admitted he had found it difficult at times to find consistency around Albert Park even though he put his Ferrari on pole for Sunday’s race; watch Sunday’s race live on Sunday at 6am on Sky Sports F1

Last Updated: 09/04/22 1:12pm


Karun Chandhok is joined by Charles Leclerc at the SkyPad to analyse his pole lap at the Australian GP.

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Karun Chandhok is joined by Charles Leclerc at the SkyPad to analyse his pole lap at the Australian GP.

Karun Chandhok is joined by Charles Leclerc at the SkyPad to analyse his pole lap at the Australian GP.

Charles Leclerc was delighted to secure pole position on the grid for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix after revealing he had been struggling around Albert Park throughout the weekend.

The Ferrari driver had been consistently among the front-runners during the three practice sessions and secured his place on the front row with a fastest lap of 1:17.868 in Q3.

But Leclerc admitted afterwards it had been difficult for him to find the consistency he had been searching for until that lap, despite appearing from the outside to have been performing strongly.

“Overall, I’m very happy because it’s a track where I’ve always struggled in the past and I’ve struggled this weekend,” Leclerc said.

“You probably couldn’t see from outside because we were quite fast, but I was struggling quite a lot with mistakes, being inconsistent and I really worked on that to try to put a good lap together in Q3.

“I knew it was just all about putting it together and I managed to do it in Q3, so I’m very happy.

“It’s more the nature of the corners like Turn 1 and Turn 6 where the turning phase is very sharp and fast, and I struggled with my driving style in those corners, struggling to be very precise.”

Charles Leclerc felt he struggled in earlier qualifying but focused on putting it together for the final lap to land pole for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

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Charles Leclerc felt he struggled in earlier qualifying but focused on putting it together for the final lap to land pole for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc felt he struggled in earlier qualifying but focused on putting it together for the final lap to land pole for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

World championship leader Leclerc is aiming to build on a strong start which saw him open the 2022 season with victory in Bahrain and finish second after a thrilling battle with Max Verstappen in Saudi Arabia.

The 24-year-old, whose previous two Grand Prix in Australia have yielded 13th and fifth-place finishes, expects Ferrari and Red Bull to be closely matched in Sunday’s race as well.

Karun Chandhok compares Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen's best qualifying laps for the Australian GP.

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Karun Chandhok compares Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen’s best qualifying laps for the Australian GP.

Karun Chandhok compares Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen’s best qualifying laps for the Australian GP.

“We look quite strong, everything is going to be extremely close,” Leclerc said. “We still have quite a lot of porpoising and this gives them the advantage of straight-line speed.

“They will have a much smaller advantage to Jeddah, so it should be a bit more difficult for them to overtake us. But for us, we need a good start and a good first lap, so we’ll push for that.”

Karun Chandhok is joined by Charles Leclerc at the SkyPad to analyse his pole lap at the Australian GP.

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Karun Chandhok is joined by Charles Leclerc at the SkyPad to analyse his pole lap at the Australian GP.

Karun Chandhok is joined by Charles Leclerc at the SkyPad to analyse his pole lap at the Australian GP.

Verstappen: I expect it to be tight

Verstappen, who will start second with team-mate Sergio Perez one place behind him in third, feels there is more to come from the Red Bull car.

The reigning world champion managed a best lap of 1:18.154 in Q3 and confessed to his own struggles throughout the weekend as well.

“I would have hoped to start first, but we have to accept where we finish, but the whole weekend has been a bit tricky for me,” Verstappen said.

“I’ve never really found a stable grip whether it’s front or rear and that’s just not nice. For me, that’s really been the case all year.

Max Verstappen says he has found things 'tough' all year, after qualifying second at the Australian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says he has found things ‘tough’ all year, after qualifying second at the Australian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen says he has found things ‘tough’ all year, after qualifying second at the Australian Grand Prix

“I’ve just never found a comfortable balance where I could attack corners, especially in qualifying and that’s a big limitation because it’s something very new for me in the last three years.

“Of course, I’m talking like I’m P18, but I think we have a lot of potential in the car we’re not showing and I think that’s a bit of a shame.”

Nevertheless, the Dutchman believes the Red Bull has shown better levels of performance in race conditions and expects another close-fought contest with Leclerc in Sunday’s Grand Prix.

“In the race, we have quite a good balance and in the long run [in P3] it seemed under control,” Verstappen said.

“I expect it to be tight; maybe Ferrari will find something, but I hope not and hopefully we can have a good battle again.”

Australian GP, Provisional Grid
1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
4) Lando Norris, McLaren
5) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
6) George Russell, Mercedes
7) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
8) Estaban Ocon, Alpine
9) Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari
10) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
11) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
12) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
13) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
14) Zhou Guanyu, Alfo Romeo
15) Mick Schumacher, Haas
16) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
17) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
18) Nicholas Latifi, Williams
19) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin*
20) Alexander Albon, Williams**

*three place grid penalty
**excluded from qualifying over fuel sample


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