Contrasting afternoons – again – for the Ferrari drivers at the Portuguese GP
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 24/10/20 4:59pm
Charles Leclerc was in top form again in qualifying for the Portuguese GP as he finished fourth – and within half a second of pole – for Ferrari, but Sebastian Vettel was a lowly 15th on another miserable afternoon.
Attempting to explain the big gap, Leclerc admitted his team-mate was “probably not at ease” with the Ferrari car while the four-time world champion himself simply stated he was “not happy at all”.
Leclerc has now outqualified Vettel on nine consecutive Saturdays and he starred again at Portimao, sealing a second consecutive fourth on the grid.
He was also just 0.438s off pole position, unexpectedly bringing Ferrari back into a Mercedes-Red Bull battle they have been absent from for all of F1 2020.
“We definitely did not expect it,” Leclerc told Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson in a SkyPad special. “I think we expected a better result than usual, but to be so close to pole position was a surprise.”
Speaking in the media pen about Vettel, Leclerc added: “We speak a little bit with Seb and from what I understand he’s probably not at ease as I am with the balance we have in the car.
“The rear is moving quite a bit and I just feel quite good in the car at the moment. But I’m sure for tomorrow it will be a lot better for him.”
Vettel hasn’t beaten Leclerc in qualifying since F1 2020’s third race, the Hungarian GP, while he hasn’t even reached Q3 since round four at Silverstone. In the Portuguese GP shootout, he was even beaten by Williams’ George Russell.
“Not happy at all,” Vettel told F1 about his feeling in the car. “I struggled to just get things together.
“It’s very difficult to build a rhythm when it’s basically different every time round, which normally is tyre temperature related and seemed to make a big difference this weekend so far.”
Vettel was also glum talking about his prospects for Sunday’s race.
“The problem is we are stuck in traffic for the whole race so it’s going to be the same as the last race,” said Vettel, who finished 11th at the Eifel GP.