Charles Leclerc admits the difficult conditions late in qualifying at the Brazilian Grand Prix prompted him to consider abandoning the Q3 lap that earned him second position.

The threat of rain had lingered throughout Friday’s qualifying hour at Interlagos and its imminent arrival in the final stage led to drivers scrambling to get out of the pitlane.

Max Verstappen headed the queue and subsequently bagged pole position with the first timed lap of the top-10 shootout, eclipsing Leclerc’s Ferrari by 0.294s.

Both drivers remained comfortably clear of the rest, profiting from setting their respective lap times before the descending showers that hindered those behind them.

However, Leclerc concedes that he was pondering giving up his only Q3 attempt due to the struggles he was experiencing with grip even before the rain appeared.

“To be honest today, in my whole career I’ve never experienced something like that,” Leclerc said.

“From Turn 4, it was not raining, but the car was extremely difficult to drive, no grip, I was think about just coming in at the end of the lap, but I finished the lap and P2, it’s quite good but it’s a very weird one for everybody on track today, but I’m happy to be on the front row, anyway.”

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23 leaves the pits. 03.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Qualifying Day.

Leclerc credited his side of the Ferrari garage for executing the right calls in the changeable conditions, enabling him to secure a front-row berth for Sunday’s race.

“It’s always very, very difficult, but today we did, obviously, the right choices, we did everything we wanted to do, so that’s good,” he added.

The Monegasque driver had been on pole at the previous two rounds but Ferrari’s continued race-day woes saw him drop back into the clutches of faster cars behind.

But Leclerc has been coy about the Italian marque’s chances in Sunday’s 71-lap grand prix, insisting that the race pace is always an unknown when the Sprint format is in use.

Asked whether he is confident for the grand prix, Leclerc replied: “I don’t know about the race yet. In these Sprint weekends there’s always a big question mark on the race pace, but I hope it will be a good one and, hopefully, there won’t be too much rain tomorrow and Sunday.”

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