After two consecutive pole positions, Charles Leclerc thinks he and his Ferrari team will be “back to reality” at the French Grand Prix this weekend.
Leclerc had two exceptional qualifying sessions in Monaco and Baku respectively, which led team-mate Carlos Sainz to dub the Monegasque driver as the best qualifier in Formula 1.
While Ferrari are not considered to be at Mercedes and Red Bull’s level, they have shown they are not far behind.
The Monegasque driver came home a respectable P4 last time out in Azerbaijan, and he’s been playing down Ferrari’s chance of success in the more traditional surroundings of Le Castellet, rather than on street tracks.
Ferrari have jumped above McLaren in the Constructors’ standings and, while they have shown signs of progress, Leclerc is not expecting the same levels of performance from the Scuderia this weekend.
“I think it will be a bit back to reality,” Leclerc told reporters ahead of the French Grand Prix.
“That’s been two [strong] weekends – in Monaco, we did not expect to be as competitive, and in Baku we definitely did not expect it.
“In Baku we expected to be back to reality but actually, I feel like this weekend is unfortunately going to be the weekend where we’re back to reality – where we’ll be struggling a bit more compared to the last two weekends.
“The [corners] are a bit more medium speed here, it’s a bit more of a normal track so I expect to struggle a bit more this weekend.”
Three in a row, starting with France 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/VaKuz1EXam
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) June 16, 2021
When asked how much of a struggle he meant – whether it was outside the points or lower down the top 10 – he responded: “I really hope not outside the points! I feel like we’re really going to be the fourth or third team fighting with McLaren or AlphaTauri, these same teams that we have been fighting with, [along] with a bigger gap to the top two teams, Mercedes and Red Bull.”
Fans will also be in attendance at Paul Ricard this weekend. The attendance has been capped at 15,000 per day, but Leclerc is looking forward to seeing some supporters back in grandstands as Formula 1 looks to return to a more normal state.
He said: “Of course, it feels amazing [to have fans] whenever you are either having good moments and cheering you on, or bad, it’s always a very, very good feeling.
“We can’t hear them but we can definitely see them from the car, from the pits and to finally see people around will be good.”