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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc sets Ferrari target after costly mistake

The Ferrari driver will line up sixth on the grid in Austria, two places behind team-mate Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc Qualifying Austria
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Charles Leclerc is "optimistic" Ferrari can achieve a podium finish in the Austrian Grand Prix - a target he also feels is "realistic."

The Monégasque will start from sixth at the Red Bull Ring after running wide at Turns 6 and 9 on his final Q3 lap, meaning he could not improve further as team-mate Carlos Sainz bagged fourth, the two intertwined with the Mercedes of George Russell in third and Lewis Hamilton in fifth.

Ferrari and Mercedes have appeared to be a step behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and the McLarens throughout the weekend, although Mercedes did suggest it had strong race pace on Friday.

Leclerc confessed to making a costly mistake at the death in qualifying but felt a podium was a possibility. 

"I will say that we need to make some more steps forward compared to the [sprint], we changed quite a few things on the car [heading into qualifying] but I am a bit disappointed with my second lap in Q3," Leclerc told media, including RacingNews365. 

"I made a mistake there which cost us an opportunity to be back in the top three, so the feeling is better, however, there was a mistake. 

"We did a better job [in qualifying] and it went in the right direction, but as I said, I made a mistake in Q3 which cost us the opportunity to be further up the grid.

"I would expect it to be better in the race, and top three is optimistic but realistic."

Leclerc's mistake

The 2022 Austrian GP winner conceded he had "made his life more difficult" as he targeted at least third place, with the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri down in seventh after having his best Q3 lap deleted for track limits. 

"I'm not going to go into details, but we felt better in the high speed and I feel like the direction is more beneficial for the race," Leclerc added.

"It is just a shame that we are starting P7, and I made my life more difficult.

"Compared to Max and the McLaren, we are quite far away. In qualifying, I don't think we are that far away, but in the race, I would expect McLaren to have the upper hand."

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