Charles Leclerc says that he never gave up hope of making it to Q3 after he looked to be all but eliminated during qualifying. The Sauber driver was outside the top ten towards the end of Q2, with his chances of advancing decreasing as the rain fell heavier.
His team told him to come into the pits, however the 21-year-old opted to stay out and set a time. Despite the track getting increasingly slower due to the slippery surface, Leclerc produced a lap time good enough to pull him up into the top ten and see him through.
“To be honest, I half believed in the fact that we couldn’t improve with this weather and obviously with flat-spotted tyres, because we stayed on the same tyres that we were on just before,” he said.
“Nobody really believed that we could improve, but I really wanted to go for it, I never really give up, so I just wanted to try. I saw that there was enough time to go out again and I just went for it.
“It was an extremely good lap. I was extremely happy, especially as it was quite a bit raining, with used tyres also so I never thought I would have improved. In the end it went a lot better than we thought.”
Leclerc ended up qualifying in eighth place, as he was pipped by teammate Marcus Ericsson who recorded his best ever qualifying finish. Leclerc will be hoping to end his rookie year on a high at the last two races of the season before he makes the switch to Ferrari next year.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing