Charles Leclerc became the 99th pole sitter in the history of F1 today – as well as the second youngest – following a superb performance in qualifying. He was pleased to turn it around after a disappointing Saturday in Melbourne.
‘’Yeah, I’m extremely happy. Obviously in the last race I was not very happy with my qualifying – I did some mistakes in Q3 – and I really worked hard to try to not do the same mistakes here. It seems we did quite a good job, a front-row lockout and yeah, extremely happy.
I’m trying to stay as cool as possible because, unfortunately, there are no points awarded for the pole position and all points will be awarded tomorrow. So, of course I’ll enjoy the moment, it has been a great day and a great weekend overall until now for us, and I hope it will continue tomorrow. The target now is to focus on the race and try to do the best race possible – but obviously it’s amazing to be here.’’
Poooooole Position 😘— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) March 30, 2019
Special day and a day I will always remember but tomorrow is the day where points are scored, let's focus on that. 👊 pic.twitter.com/lRU64zt33B
Sebastian Vettel qualified on the front row for the first time since Brazil last year – but it wasn’t the smoothest session for the four-time World Champion. He was forced to do two runs in Q2 after getting stuck behind Ricciardo on his opening attempt. It left him with just a single attempt in Q3.
‘’Obviously it was a bit hectic in Q2 and I was just in an unfortunate slot which sometimes is very difficult to control so I got unlucky and didn’t have an option other than following Daniel for the lap and it was very marginal so we had to go again and then we lost a set that we were planning to run in Q3. Not ideal, preparing qualifying and I committed to one run at the end and it was crucial to get that lap to the finish. Second, I think, is alright.
I think, the credit really goes to the team because it’s a team effort. I mean, in the end, we didn’t feel very happy with the car in Melbourne and the team has done very, very hard work trying to understand why, and I think we had some answers coming here, proving today that we are running at the front and fighting for pole. Locking out the front row for Ferrari is, yeah, a great testament of their work, first of all. Happy, obviously, not exactly my day but that’s how it goes, so I look forward to tomorrow.’’
Mercedes have struggled to match the pace of Ferrari all weekend. However, Lewis Hamilton was feeling more upbeat after car balance changes overnight on what he described as a ‘’weak circuit’’ for him.
‘’I made changes to the car overnight and during the day today so I’m hopeful the car is in a better position [to fight the Ferraris tomorrow]. This is honestly a weak circuit for me. That’s why I’m a little more upbeat – because I had a deficit fo three-tenths at least all day yesterday to Valtteri and managed to turn that around a little bit. The race here last year was quite strong. It’s very, very hard this race. It’s very tough on the tyres and it’s a physically-challenging circuit It is incredibly challenging for the car as well, so I just hope that there’s some excitement tomorrow – one way or another.
As I said, a lot of it is on the straights, if not all of it. So somehow they’ve managed to find a lot more speed on the straights but I think for us, the car has felt OK. It’s just… I’m just thinking that over the years it’s not been a circuit that particularly suited our car, for whatever reason, but I think we got into quite a nice place today and as I said, I think it’s the straight (line) speed was really where we lost a lot of time. In sector one, we’re losing three tenths, two tenths, whatever it is, just on the straightline speed, so that’s a significant amount.’’