Charles Leclerc moved to ease the pressure on his Ferrari team after their latest error during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Monegasque entered the weekend with engine penalties that were set to put him on the eighth row of the grid alongside Max Verstappen, so he was not fighting for pole.
His team-mate, Carlos Sainz, needed a bit of help clearing Sergio Perez given the unbelievable pace of the Red Bull this weekend, so Leclerc was sent out in Q3 to give him a hand.
The plan was to save a set of fresh tyres for the race, bolt on some used rubber, and release Leclerc later than Sainz so that the Monegasque would be exiting the pits just in time to give his team-mate a slipstream when the 27-year-old started his lap.
It worked to perfection, except for one detail. A miscommunication meant that the team put Leclerc on the fresh tyres they were planning to use for the race.
Aware of the error, Leclerc was eventually told to do a flying lap anyway, and he went fourth fastest.
The slipstream was enough to get Sainz ahead of Perez and into first place for Sunday’s grand prix, so there was a consolation, but that does not change the fact that fresh tyres were wasted in the process.
Leclerc, however, cooled the criticism of the team, stressing that the mistake was not unassailable.
“It was probably a miscommunication but it was no big deal, it was just that I was surprised but nothing big,” he said.
“I won’t go too much into details but it was no big deal.”
Sainz ended up six tenths of a second behind Verstappen despite the slipstream from Leclerc, and the Dutchman set that lap with just one run at the start of Q3.
Leclerc admitted that the pace Red Bull have arrived at Spa with is a bit of a concern.
“I mean there is some potential, obviously because we didn’t prepare qualifying as much as we normally do,” the 24-year-old told Sky Sports.
“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.”
Verstappen will start 15th, one position ahead of Leclerc, while Sainz will lead Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso off the line on Sunday.