After two sensational qualifying sessions in the first two races of the 2021 season, Charles Leclerc looked a bit more subdued during the qualifying of the last Portuguese Grand Prix, where he finished eighth, behind team-mate Carlos Sainz.
The Spaniard managed to get the best out of his car on Saturday afternoon, but, also due to the tyre strategy, he didn't score any points, finishing eleventh in the race; while Charles Leclerc suffered more the tricky conditions in qualifying, but took home an excellent sixth place for the Maranello team.
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies, on Saturday, stated that Leclerc seemed “less comfortable” on the portuguese track, where he didn't bring his “magic” that he usually uses to position the car in the top spots of the grid.
“He has this capacity to extract two-tenths that we didn’t know were there in our car,” Mekies said. “He does that on a regular basis. It’s nearly normal business for him to do that.”
Despite the reassurances received by the team, the Monegasque appeared a little bit too harsh on himself speaking to the microphones after Sunday's race.
"I feel like yesterday shows also that I've got a lot to learn still,” he said.
“Surely qualifying is one of my strengths. But yesterday, and overall, this weekend has been quite poor for me. So, very inconsistent. So there's still a lot to work on my side.”
Many drivers had some difficulties finding the right balance during free practice and qualifying, both because of the low-grip asphalt and the hard compounds brought by Pirelli.
Leclerc explained what the difficulties were in bringing home a better time than his teammate:
“What I learned from this weekend is maybe I should have taken it step by step, especially on such a difficult weekend like this,” Leclerc said.
“I’ve tried to push the car to its limit straight away and it made my weekend very, very messy" he added.
“If I look Friday and Saturday, they haven’t been very good days for me, and I was just all over the place and once in 10 laps I managed to do a very good lap, but I was just not consistent"
“Maybe in those conditions, I should have taken it a bit more step by step, which I did today [in the race].” he concluded.