Charles Leclerc expressed his surprise at Mercedes’ impressive performance during the Qatar Grand Prix, where George Russell managed to finish ahead of him after recovering from a first-lap crash.
Despite a challenging race for Ferrari, with Carlos Sainz’s race being affected by a fuel leak, Leclerc found himself taken aback by Mercedes’ pace.
Russell, the Mercedes driver, showed remarkable resilience as he fought his way back from the rear of the field to secure a fourth-place finish, while Leclerc finished in fifth place, just ahead of Fernando Alonso.
Leclerc revealed that Ferrari had been extra cautious in the wake of Sainz’s race-start difficulties, but the unexpected performance from Mercedes caught him off guard.
The outcome of the Qatar Grand Prix had implications for the Constructors’ Championship, as Mercedes extended its lead over Ferrari by an additional two points, now standing at 28 points ahead with five rounds and two Sprint races remaining in the season.
Reflecting on the challenging day for Ferrari, Leclerc told the media, “We didn’t start the day in the best way possible with Carlos’ issue, which was a shame.
“In this way, it made us take a bit more margin on my side driving-wise, just to be on the safe side.
“But I don’t think there was more we could have extracted for the race.”
Leclerc went on to discuss the performance of rival teams, saying, “We were not surprised with McLaren’s pace, even though they were super quick; we expected on Friday that they would be very strong.”
However, he highlighted the unexpected turn of events with Mercedes, stating, “On the other hand, we’re quite surprised with Mercedes’ pace.
“For them to finish in front of us with crashing on Lap 1 is surprising.”