Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

Red Bull’s advantage is as if they built their car exactly for this track – Leclerc

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc is concerned the sudden performance advantage Red Bull demonstrated in qualifying today could be the shape of things to come.

Max Verstappen led Q3 by six-tenths of a second over Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr. The Red Bull driver will share the eighth row of the grid with Leclerc as both have grid penalties due to power unit parts changes.

Because of his penalty, Leclerc said he didn’t concentrate on optimising his car for single-lap pace. But he doesn’t believe that accounts for all of his deficit to Verstappen.

“We didn’t really focus on qualifying on my side,” he said. “Whether there’s eight tenths in that, absolutely not.

“That’s why they seemed to find something for this weekend, Red Bull and Max, and it was just impossible for us to get close.”

“Red Bull seems to have been extremely strong,” he added. “Also Checo [Sergio Perez] this morning in FP3, he did one lap where we didn’t really understand from where it was coming from.

“So it’s a surprise because I think we expected to close in a bit more the gap in qualifying. But there was quite a lot of times that they were extremely quick this weekend since FP1.”

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Given the scale of Red Bull’s advantage, Leclerc is unsure whether it is simply a question of the track layout suiting their car, and said it may indicate their rivals having taken a significant step forwards.

“If it’s track-specific, then they built this car exactly for this track because seven-tenths is a lot,” he said. “So I don’t know they found something this weekend that is quite impressive. I mean it’s a big gap.

“So I hope that in Zandvoort it will change. But before that, we’ve got the race tomorrow, which seems to be a bit more competitive. Let’s see how it goes.”

Ferrari accidentally put an incorrect set of soft tyres on Leclerc’s car at one stage in Q3, sending him out on new rubber when he should have been on a used set. However he said this did not cause any significant problems.

“It was probably a miscommunication, but anyway, it’s no big deal,” he said. “It was just that I was surprised, but nothing big.” Asked if he was frustrated by the team’s latest error in managing its strategies, Leclerc said: “No.”

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2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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10 comments on “Red Bull’s advantage is as if they built their car exactly for this track – Leclerc”

  1. “Red Bull’s advantage is as if they built their car exactly for this track” and then somehow convinced their nearest competitor to hire the two most inept drivers they possibly could.

    1. What? Strange statement if you’re referring to leclerc and sainz.

  2. The only regulation that could bring balance to F1 would be banning Newey. – he has been able to find advantages in any set of rules FIA had throw at him for the best part of three decades.

    1. Nah, that’s exagerated, even with newey mercedes stayed unbeatable for many years.

  3. RedBull seems to have found insane peformance during the summer break. And unlike Ferrari, they won’t be wasting their advantage with dubious strategic calls and confusion over team orders.

    1. And unlike Ferrari, they won’t be wasting their advantage with dubious strategic calls and confusion over team orders.

      That’s the crux of it. They have shown ability that they can punch way beyond their weight and scoring victories in tracks where they have no business challenging Ferrari. It was already expected that RBR will be quick in Spa and Monza but not by this margin.

      RBR have brought a lighter chassis in Spa which, thanks to a new carbon fiber technology, enabled them to lose around 6 kgs of weight and the same time managed to pass the severe crash test rigidity requirements. They kept silent about it. Not only Newey but the entire team with all its departments involved (design, aero, composite, strategy…) master the business of F1.

      The RB18 despite being a fast car was born overweight and RBR did have a clear idea that issue will be resolved in the second half of the season. Another thing is that Christian Horner has been pushing for the budget cap to be adjusted arguing the soar in freight/energy costs and inflation… The main concern was how to justify the upgrades’ costs not the upgrades themselves.

  4. I’ll reserve judgement for after Zandvoort.. I mean, the RBR car of this season is known for its straight line speed. It can’t be a surprise that it performs well on a track where they are wide open for 23 seconds

  5. Amateur hour for ferrari yet again. The radio question was discreet the answer though was not.
    We saw lots of porpoising on the ferrari, the effect was almost negligeable in the last few races but we saw them struggling to keep it flat on the corner after eau rouge but before radillion (the corner we call eau rouge) and also on pouhon. I think Ferrari had more to give but in the end of the day spa is a power corcuit and ferrari is the slowest pu on the grid.

    1. I thought that was mercedes.

  6. How is Ferrari surprised that Red Bull is fast at one of the fastest circuits in F1? Red Bull has been the class of the field at high speed sections all season. It’s no wonder they’re strong here.

    That said, it’s still mostly Verstappen who is that far ahead. Pérez is still roughly on the same pace as Ferrari.

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