The final qualifying session of the season in Abu Dhabi fell short of expectations for Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc as he finds himself out-qualified by his teammate Carlos Sainz by two places. The Monegasque driver will start from P7 on the starting grid for the last race of the season. Leclerc has managed to out-qualify Sainz 13 times in 2021 and is currently eight points ahead of the Spaniard in the driver’s standings. However, Leclerc says it will be “tough to fight back” in the season finale and hopes that Ferrari’s strong race pace will prevail.
The 24-year old will also have another challenge on his hands with the battle for 5th place in the driver’s championship with the two other contenders Sainz and Lando Norris. The Brit sits 4 points behind Leclerc and managed to secure a solid third-place spot on the starting grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Post qualifying, Leclerc felt that there was more that he and the team could have done in qualifying and admitted to pushing too hard on his tyres before the twisty final sector.
"We had the potential to do better today. My first and second sectors were coming together very well, but I probably pushed a bit too much so that I had no grip left by the time I arrived at the last sector,” replied Leclerc.
“It’s a shame, but that’s life. It’s going to be tough for us to fight back tomorrow, but we will do our best. We are strong in terms of our race pace, so hopefully we can put it all together one last time this season."
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director at Ferrari described the qualifying session as “solid” and says that they are aiming to secure a place in the second row for the end of the race in Abu Dhabi. Mekies also stated how important it is to end the season with a great race result not just for the team and drivers but for everyone back home in Maranello as well as the passionate fans around the world who support Ferrari.
"A solid qualifying session, especially in terms of our performance level. Right from the start of the season, we have seen that it’s very close behind the two teams at the front and it takes very little to find oneself ahead or behind a group that can be made up of between ten to 12 cars”
“Carlos and Charles gave it their best shot and were in the hunt for a place on the second row right to the end and their grid positions are a good starting point for tomorrow’s race.”
"After races on two completely new tracks, we are at a circuit that has been significantly modified, making it much more flowing and I think the team has once again shown this weekend that it is capable of adapting quickly to anything new. Today, we went against the tide in our approach to qualifying, which will help us exploit our potential.
"Tomorrow, we will try and convert that into a good result, in order to achieve the goals we are still pursuing. We want to have a good race to end the season, to put a smile on the face of our drivers, and all of us who work hard every day, both at the track and back in Maranello and all the people from all over the world who follow Scuderia Ferrari with so much passion and enthusiasm."