Robert Doornbos is very impressed with Charles Leclerc who showed many good laps during qualifying in Las Vegas. According to the former driver, it seems as if the Ferrari car was made for the street circuit. Max Verstappen lacked some speed in qualifying but is still the favorite for the race due to his excellent long runs.
Leclerc was faster than Verstappen in every session of qualifying. In any case, the qualifying simulations already showed that Ferrari had managed the speed very well over one lap, so it was somewhat expected that pole position would go to Ferrari. The pressure was on for Carlos Sainz, who has a grid penalty of ten places and therefore had to qualify as best as possible to limit the damage. Leclerc has a way of breaking under pressure, but it went well. “He almost gave away pole,” Doornbos notes in Ziggo Sport Race Café. “It’s all about Q3, and then it was actually disappointing,” says the Dutchman about Leclerc’s pole lap.
‘It wasn’t his lap, and then Sainz came very close. You feel that as a driver, you see it on your delta, and then you go overdriven. So you’re going to push more and demand more from those tires,” said Doornbos. In any case, the former driver thinks that without those mistakes, Leclerc has at least four tenths over Verstappen. ‘But that’s not important now, it’s about adjusting for the race. No one knows how it will go, because there is no data from previous years,” says Doornbos. Red Bull’s racing simulations showed very promising things, and Ferrari was five tenths behind. ‘That graining is a thing, especially if the tire heats up quite quickly, which is the case with Ferrari and Williams. How does that work after two or three rounds?’
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Because the SF-23 got the tire running so quickly, Leclerc was able to take his 23rd pole position. He is now level with Niki Lauda, who also achieved 23 poles for Ferrari. “More importantly, do you convert it into a win?” card Doornbos. ‘Leclerc is the man with so much bad luck, but perhaps it turns to luck here. The SF-23 seems made for this circuit. That car turns so easily. He drives very well over those curbs, he goes over them so well, and doesn’t touch that underbody either,” notes Doornbos, who is impressed by the Ferrari car on the Las Vegas Strip circuit.
Mol doesn’t see Ferrari standing a chance
Although Leclerc showed very impressive things, he is not expected to take a victory in Las Vegas. “I’ve seen the long runs, Verstappen is six-tenths faster than the first Ferrari,” says Ziggo commentator Olav Mol. ‘Even 1.1 seconds faster than Hamilton. The runs that Ferrari did were on new medium tyres, Red Bull did its runs on old medium tyres. They were sets that were thirteen rounds old,” Mol continues. “Ferrari will not take a second victory, and Leclerc also did not win when he started from pole the last ten times,” Mol says firmly.
It seems to be clear to the Ziggo analysts that Verstappen will ‘just’ walk away with the victory on Saturday evening. It remains to be seen whether teammate Sergio Pérez has a chance. The Mexican qualified twelfth. “It was crazy, because the clock just kept running,” says Doornbos about the moment Pérez went in during Q2 with at least two minutes left. ‘His strategy was not good. I think it was a wrong choice, he shouldn’t have gone so early. Things always build up enormously on a street circuit.’
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McLaren was nowhere to be seen
During qualifying it was already a battle between Red Bull and Ferrari, and that seems to be happening again on Saturday evening. Both Mercedes and McLaren seem to play no role in the battle for victory. “I think they are also very surprised, I actually didn’t see Lando Norris in Q1 at all,” says Doornbos. ‘They don’t know where the lack of pace comes from. I think Norris is getting a bit fed up with that.’ Mol thinks that the lack of pace is because the MCL60 does not feel comfortable on tracks with little downforce. ‘McLaren then takes a wing for low downforce, but that doesn’t actually help them. There is too little where they can make a difference, because they cannot make a difference on the straight stretch,” concludes Mol.
Verstappen can take his eighteenth win of the season this weekend in Las Vegas. Also betting on F1? Via this link from JACKS you are eligible for 60 euros in free bets! If you play responsibly, you keep it fun. What does gambling cost you? Stop on time, 18+