Leclerc names surprise Saudi Arabian F1 challenger


Charles Leclerc has stated that Aston Martin has the “upper hand” in Jeddah after the opening day of free practice at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Leclerc ended the second practice outing in fourth place while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso leapt to the head of the timesheets.

The two-time World Champion was the only driver to set a 1:28s lap time, positioning himself over two-tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival.

Alonso’s strong start to the weekend comes following his run to ninth place at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Despite the Spaniard’s pace, Red Bull remain the favourites for the remainder of the event after its strong start to the campaign in Bahrain where it secured pole position and a 1-2 finish in the race.

Although Aston Martin sit on top as it stands, Leclerc is hopeful that its pace will taper off as the weekend progresses.

“They were really strong on Thursday in Bahrain so I hope that it’s the same here and they do a bit of a step back and I’m more in line with everyone else.” Leclerc said.

“For now they seem to have the upper hand but I believe from [Friday] onwards, we should be very close.”

Leclerc confident over pole position fight

When asked if he feels he can be in the fight for pole position, Leclerc said: “It’s always difficult to know but I think we are pretty close.

“My bet now would be yes.”

Before Ferrari can think about mounting a charge for pole position however, Leclerc admitted that improvements must be made to the SF-24 car.

“I’m feeling OK, there’s still quite a bit of work to do. Everybody seems quite close even though Aston seems quite strong for now.

“I believe that whenever we will go into the qualifying configurations, it will be all about the person that maximises their package.

“So we need to make sure that we do a step forward from [practice]. We did all the tests we wanted to, so let’s see where we are.”



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