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Leclerc says the gap to Red Bull is bigger than it seems

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Charles Leclerc took little comfort in qualifying 0.155 seconds off Sergio Perez’s pole position time at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, saying Ferrari’s gap to Red Bull is far greater than he suggested. the session on Saturday.

Leclerc was second fastest but will drop to 12th on the grid with a ten-place penalty after reliability issues at the Bahrain Grand Prix saw him exceed the number of electronic control devices allowed for the season.

Despite the apparent improvement in performance relative to Red Bull since the season opener in Bahrain, when Leclerc was 0.3sec off pole position, the Ferrari driver was cautious in discussing the progress of his team after defending champion Max Verstappen withdrew from qualifying with a driveshaft failure. .

“I put everything in my lap, but I feel that the gap that we are seeing between me and Checo is not the real one, I think that the gap is much bigger than that,” he said. “And eventually my goal is to beat Red Bull, it’s not to finish second, third or fourth or whatever. So there’s still a lot of work to do before I get to their level.”

Leclerc said Ferrari was on par with Mercedes, Aston Martin and Alpine in terms of race pace, but he expected Verstappen, starting 15th, to break through the pack.

“For tomorrow we have a ten place grid penalty, so it will be starting the race a bit on the defensive, but I will do absolutely everything to get back to the front.”

“We’ll also have Max behind, but the Red Bulls are in a league of their own for now, so I’m pretty sure he’ll be back at the front pretty quickly. For us, we’ll try to focus on ourselves, we’re more or less at the same race pace. from Alpine, Mercedes and Aston Martin, so it should be a good fight, but let’s wait and see tomorrow.”