Charles Leclerc stunned by 'surprise' Brazilian GP qualifying lap

Sauber's Charles Leclerc was left stunned by his most "surprising" lap in Formula 1's Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying after believing progressing into Q3 was not possible when he began it

Charles Leclerc stunned by 'surprise' Brazilian GP qualifying lap

Leclerc was instructed by his team to return to the pitlane in the dying stages of Q2 due to intensifying rainfall, though the Ferrari-bound driver opted for one last flying lap.

Running 11th and facing elimination from qualifying when he began his lap, Leclerc managed to produce a 1m08.335-second lap on used and flat-spotted supersoft rubber to lift himself into Q3, where he went onto qualify eighth.

He will start the Brazilian GP in seventh due to a five-place grid drop for Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

"I don't know, in terms of surprise laps, it's definitely number one because I didn't even expect it," Leclerc said when asked where his Q2 effort ranked in his career.

"To be honest, if I would have judged the grip [before deciding to do the lap] I would have said stayed in the box, because the grip was quite low in some of the places.

"But, I was extremely happy with the lap, I don't think I've yelled that much in the helmet when I pass the finish line and saw we got the Q3.

"And I think there was a big surprise from not only me, but also for the team and probably all the other guys watching on the TV.

"Nobody expected it, I just wanted to get out and try one more time, I don't really like to give up, and even though I thought it probably wasn't realistic I just wanted to give it a try."

Team-mate Marcus Ericsson also made it into Q3 and was a career-best seventh quickest - starting sixth after Ricciardo's penalty - which he hailed as a "great achievement".

Ericsson conceded he could easily have been out in Q1 due to the "tight" midfield fight.

"I think we've been strong recently, been in Q3 a few times, in Mexico as well," said Ericsson, who will join Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in IndyCar next year.

"We were expecting to be in the fight but we know it's so tight between the midfield teams, you could be out in Q1 or you could go all the way to Q3.

"We knew that going into the session. We made some changes overnight so the car felt better and in qualy I managed to hook it up in each segment and it was a very good session.

"It feels great. Obviously, the main thing is it's a very strong result for the team, to have both cars in P6 and P7.

"For me personally it's a great achievement, and I'm very very happy about it."

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Charles Leclerc
Author Lewis Duncan
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