His career may only be getting started, but Charles Leclerc is already finding himself mentioned among Ferrari legends after securing his fourth-straight pole position in Sochi on Saturday.
Another race, another pole – Charles Leclerc is on one hell of a purple patch.
Spa, Monza, Singapore and now Sochi – whatever Leclerc and Ferrari did in the summer break, it’s certainly working.
Where the SF90 was once a dog in the corners, it is now more-than-capable, and in the Monegasque’s hands, it becomes simply untouchable.
Four tenths up on Lewis Hamilton – who pulled out possibly his best lap of the year just to get that close – and Sebastian Vettel a further two hundredths back, Leclerc on Saturday put in the sort of dominant display that earned those two drivers a combined nine world championships. It’s a remarkable display for anyone, let alone a 21-year-old.
Add to that him being the first Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher in 2000 to earn pole at four-straight races, and it’s fair to say the hype train hasn’t just left the station, it’s gone supersonic.
Of course, there’s still a race to be run on Sunday – and it will be fascinating to see if Hamilton and Mercedes can make something happen with their different tyre strategy – but regardless of the result, Leclerc has clearly become a superstar of the sport. Say what you will about the cars, but between him, Hamilton, Vettel and Max Verstappen, F1 is in a pretty damn good place with its drivers.
It was very telling that Lewis Hamilton hopped out of his car looking particularly chuffed with a lap that only earned him P2. As Hamilton himself said, Ferrari seem to have an engine mode beyond even Mercedes’ quali boost – it just makes you wonder what could’ve been had they got their chassis sorted earlier.
A rough weekend got rougher for Alex Albon on Saturday, crashing out in FP1. You can be sure Helmut Marko wasn’t pleased – well, even less so than usual, anyway.
Great effort by Romain Grosjean to reach Q3 on Saturday. Can he repay Haas’ faith in him with his first points since Hockenheim?
Sunday Race Strategy Preview, Courtesy of FOM and Pirelli
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