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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc reveals fears of copying Sainz with early Abu Dhabi exit

Charles Leclerc secured second place for the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but feared he would miss out on a spot in the top 10 entirely.

Leclerc Abu Dhabi
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Charles Leclerc has admitted that he felt in danger of dropping out of qualifying in the first two segments after qualifying on the front row of the grid, following team-mate Carlos Sainz.

The Monegasque driver ended Q3 just over one-tenth of a second down on pole-sitter Max Verstappen after a stunning final lap.

It marked a much more successful qualifying session than his team-mate as Sainz was eliminated in Q1 and is set to start Sunday's Grand Prix from 16th on the grid.

Leclerc has stated he feared an early exit amid Ferrari's lacklustre form throughout the weekend to date.

“Honestly, considering the weekend we've had until now, I did not expect it at all,” Leclerc said of his P2.

"The last lap, I knew I had to put everything together, and I did the last corner with a bit too much sliding.

"I think everybody has had that.

"I'm really, really happy with the second place, I mean, Q1 and Q2, I was worrying about going through and in the end, it’s a front row. So it's amazing.”

"For some reason our car is very peaky. So whenever we run scrubbed tyres like the first run in Q3, it was a very good lap and we were last. I didn’t have much hope.

“But then when we put the new tyres on, everything cae alive and it felt great. I did a great job. So [I'm] really happy to be on the front row, but it’s a big surprise.”

Leclerc's qualifying session was a welcome boost for Ferrari after Sainz's disappointment as the Italian squad looks to overtake Mercedes for second in the standings.

With just four points separating the two squads, Leclerc is hopeful over his team-mate recovering to the front during the race.

“I hope it's going to go well. The target is to beat them in the Constructors' Championship, so I really hope Carlos can have a great start and then join me in the fight.

Let's try and put both of our cars in front of both Mercedes' and come back home with a second place in the Constructors'.

“That is all that matters to me this weekend.”

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F1 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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