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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc's engineer nearly gave him 'heart attack' in Verstappen confusion

The Ferrari driver banked a third pole position of the season for the United States Grand Prix.

Leclerc pole Austin US
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Charles Leclerc has cleared up the confusion with his Ferrari race engineer over track limits after securing pole position for the United States Grand Prix.

Leclerc's time of a 1:34.723 was beaten by just 0.005s by Max Verstappen, but the World Champion's lap was deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 19, demoting him to sixth.

The Ferrari driver was a tenth ahead of Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton to secure a first pole since the Belgian Grand Prix and third overall of the season after Azerbaijan - with all three coming on Sprint weekends.

However, on his in-lap, Leclerc's engineer Xavier Marcos Padros began to inform him of the track limits violation for Verstappen, but the Monegasque initially believed the message was intended for him - meaning he would have lost pole.

Leclerc's pole surprise

"I just had a heart attack, because my engineer told me track limits and then… for Verstappen," Leclerc explained to media including RacingNews365.

"When I heard track limits, I punched my steering wheel and my helmet, but then I heard for Verstappen and then I was like: 'OK, that's better news for us'.

"So that's why I, in the moment, just said to Xavi: 'Please tell me the name before the track limits, just so I don't get too excited'. That's it."

It was a strong session for Leclerc, who also topped Q2 by just 0.004s from Verstappen as he became the fifth different pole-sitter in the last five United States Grands Prix, but he still admitted his surprise at securing Ferrari's second straight Austin pole after team-mate Carlos Sainz in 2022.

"I built up confidence with the car and I felt good straightaway," he said.

"In qualifying, I tried to put everything together. The first lap in Q3 felt quite a bit better than the second lap, but I think there was a bit of track improvement.

"The second lap was good enough for pole, even though on track we got beaten by Max, but his lap time was deleted later on.

"But I'm very happy anyway to be on pole. It's a surprise for us, we definitely did not expect to be fighting for pole position here."

F1 2023 United States Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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