Charles Leclerc speaks out on ‘bittersweet’ feeling

Charles Leclerc is looking to rebound after a string of disappointing performances with Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc was left “frustrated” after losing out on pole position to Max Verstappen in a tight end to the 2023 Austrian GP qualifier.

The Ferrari driver is known for his prowess at sprint races, having claimed a pair of pole positions the last time the format was active in Azerbaijan.

It looked like Leclerc was going to make it three from three as he dashed towards the finish line, but it was not to be – Verstappen instead claimed his fourth consecutive pole position.

The Monégasque driver said that it hurt to miss out by that short a time but that he wanted to stay focused and realistic. 

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He commented: “It’s bittersweet. We were very close to Max, but just not enough, which is frustrating.”

However, the Scuderia driver said 2023 has been a rough season so far for Ferrari, so the result must be seen taken as a positive.

The Scuderia will now look to find out whether the upgraded SF-23 has moved on from its “tyre-eating” afflictions with the upgrades brought for the Austrian GP.

Leclerc said he’ll be focused on the sprint race, which offers an opening taste of where the drivers stand over a multi-lap stint, before the main event on Sunday.

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Reflecting on the qualifier Leclerc said: “I’m never happy when I’m second. I’m only happy when I’m first and today we missed pole position by very little.” 

“But to be honest, we also need to be realistic, and looking at our season this is probably the best qualy we’ve had apart from Baku, of course, where we were ahead of everyone.”

“The team has done an incredible job trying to bring these upgrades as early as possible into the season and I think this has helped us so far. Now we need to confirm that in the race.”

Media sources asked Leclerc how he thought Ferrari’s race pace was looking ahead of Sunday’s main event.

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The Monégasque driver answered: “The feeling is pretty good and was good in Montreal, but this really is the big question mark that we need to (address)”

“We’ll see already tomorrow I think with a sprint qualy, but obviously it might rain, so difficult to see anything, but in the race on Sunday.”

“That’s the answer that we want to try and have and see whether we really did a step forward in the race especially.”