Day After Getting Cold Sweats, Helmut Marko Thanks Heavens as Charles Leclerc Tanks Japanese GP Qualifying

Day After Getting Cold Sweats, Helmut Marko Thanks Heavens as Charles Leclerc Tanks Japanese GP Qualifying
Credits: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO Eibner

Red Bull have had the perfect start to the Japanese GP weekend as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will lock out the front row for the Grand Prix on Sunday. Although both Verstappen and Perez managed to qualify first and second respectively with ease by the end of the session, the senior bosses of Red Bull yet never felt comfortable. Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has explained how it was the pace of Charles Leclerc during the free practice sessions that concerned him. However, with the Monegasque now having qualified P8, the Austrian’s relieved.

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Speaking of the same, Marko said (as quoted by f1ingenerale.com), “We must pay attention to McLaren and Ferrari. Leclerc starts relatively back, thank God, I might add. He was the fastest in long runs. It will be a challenge between us, the McLarens and the Ferraris”.

Marko’s most recent remarks come after he referred to Leclerc’s long runs during FP1 on Friday as “a bit annoying”. However, sadly for the 26-year-old, he just didn’t seem to have the pace during Saturday’s qualifying session.

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Leclerc registered a 1:28.786 during Q3 and was almost a whopping six-tenths slower than Max Verstappen’s pole time. Since Leclerc was so off the pace, he couldn’t believe it and let his feelings known on the team radio. The Monegasque said, “It’s the best I could do honestly”.

Since Carlos Sainz managed a lap time that was over a tenth quicker than Leclerc, he will start Sunday’s race in fourth. Such were the fine margins during an enthralling qualifying session at Suzuka on Saturday. With Sainz starting fourth, he’s optimistic about fighting for the podium in the main race.

I think it should be an interesting battle for the podium. I think Red Bull are ahead on the rougher tarmac and high-speed circuits,” the Spaniard said.

While Sainz is optimistic about having another strong performance during this weekend’s race, Leclerc can only think of one thing. The Monegasque is keen to make things right on what is a special weekend for him, after his disappointing qualifying performance.

Charles Leclerc disappointed he could not qualify better to honor Jules Bianchi

Former Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who was Charles Leclerc’s godfather, sadly passed away on 17 July 2015. In order to honor the late Frenchman, Leclerc is wearing a special tribute helmet for the Japanese GP this weekend.

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Suzuka was the same circuit where Bianchi suffered a fatal crash 10 years ago. Hence, Leclerc believes it was only appropriate to honor his godfather this weekend.

However, after his disappointing qualifying performance, Leclerc is unsure if he honored Bianchi in the best way possible. In his post-qualifying interview, the 26-year-old explained how he now hopes to have a better race on Sunday to make up for his poor qualifying.

Bianchi was not just Leclerc’s godfather but also his inspiration and mentor. Even when Leclerc secured a race seat with Ferrari in 2019, he explained how it should have been Bianchi in his position.

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