Charles Leclerc frustrated by more Ferrari confusion at Spa

Carlos Sainz will start on pole for the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix after a series of grid penalties were applied.

It is partly comical, but mainly tiring for Ferrari now after yet another embarrassing moment on the pit wall during qualifying in Belgium.

Leclerc went into the weekend knowing that he had grid penalty for using too many engine parts.

He will join Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Mick Schumacher, Esteban Ocon, Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas in starting further back, so it was a chance for him to help out his team-mate Carlos Sainz.

The 24-year-old made it through to Q3, but the initial intention was not for Leclerc to complete a flying lap.

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Instead, the Scuderia wanted him to give a slipstream to Sainz to help him beat Sergio Perez to pole and, to do so, the plan was to put him on older tyres.

This would save him rubber for the race, but a mix-up meant that he was put on fresh Softs that he could do with in the race.

Now that he was on them, the team decided that he might as well use them to try and qualify ahead of Verstappen and start 15th, but the pace of the Dutchman was just too strong.

He would take pole, and Ferrari wasted a set of tyres after some discussion on the radio.

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“What are these tyres?” asked Leclerc.

“Sorry it’s a mistake,” replied his engineer, Xavi Marcos.

“Let me know what to do with these tyres,” said Leclerc later in Q3.

“Copy, we do the lap,” was the response.

Sainz would eventually set a lap time good enough for second behind Verstappen, who took his fourth pole of the season, but he will start first when the reigning champion’s penalty is applied, with Perez behind in second.

Six tenths of a second separated the top two, with Leclerc almost a second behind Verstappen.

“I mean there is some potential, obviously because we didn’t prepare qualifying as much as we normally do,” Leclerc told Sky Sports after the session.

“When you see the gap to Max, it’s a bit worrying, they are extremely quick, and it’s been the case since the beginning of the weekend and we cannot explain quite why.

“So, we need to work, we’ll try our best tomorrow, they seem to have found something this weekend.”

As for the tyre confusion, Leclerc wisely opted not to publicly criticise his team for the mistake.

“It probably wasn’t planned that way but we’ll discuss and see what went wrong,” he added.

Asked if he might have had the pace to challenge for pole had he gone for a meaningful effort, Leclerc had an amusing response.

READ: Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc likely to start from the back in Belgium

“Oh no, they are way too fast!” he laughed.

“There’s nothing we could have done, I mean nothing that will would have changed anything for our starting position tomorrow.

“We had to beat Max in qualifying, but the car is just not at that level.”

The Maranello-based team might, at least, be able to claw back some of the deficit to Red Bull on Sunday.

“In the race pace, it seems that both of our cars are much closer, or at least it was the case yesterday,” said an optimistic Monegasque.

“But let’s wait and see because a gap like this in qualifying, it will be strange if we are faster in the race, so let’s see.”

Leclerc is set to start the Belgian Grand Prix 16th, with Verstappen one place ahead on the eighth row of the grid.