Charles Leclerc says his qualifying result for the Tuscan Grand Prix was “definitely above” all of Ferrari’s expectations, posting a lap good enough to qualify fifth.
Following back-to-back races without scoring a single point, Ferrari hoped to turn its form around on home soil at Mugello despite predicting another tough weekend.
Leclerc had been in or around the top 10 all though practice, and while team-mate Sebastian Vettel struggled to 14th, the Monegasque sealed fifth place with his final flying lap in Q3.
While Leclerc was fortunate to benefit from a late yellow flag that hindered his rivals from improving, a third row grid slot left him pleased.
“I’m very happy, very happy with the lap overall,” Leclerc told Sky F1. “I put everything together and P5 was definitely above any of our expectations. So very, very happy.
“Monza and Spa was extremely difficult for the whole team. I struggled massively to drive the car with those low downforce settings, [it was] very difficult with the balance.
“But here we managed to put the balance right, and it felt very good in the car. We are lacking overall performance to be able to fight with the guys in front, but the balance was very good today.
“It gave me confidence, and I could give my best on that qualy lap. But it was tricky, because the first lap in Q3, I was with old tyres.
“So then to go from old to new, it was tricky, but at the end we made it happen.”
This weekend sees Ferrari celebrate its 1000 grand prix since its first entry back at the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, with the Italian outfit running a special livery to commemorate the occasion.
Although the Mugello circuit presents few overtaking opportunities, Leclerc believes Ferrari’s race pace will leave it vulnerable to attack from faster cars behind.
“There is a good opportunity,” Leclerc said. “But on the other hand, if we look at the race pace of the other teams on Friday, there are quite a lot of cars that are stronger than us on Friday.
“It’s going to be difficult to keep them behind, but that’s my job in the car and I will give everything.”