Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc labelled pole position as a surprise after he topped qualifying for Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix.

Leclerc claimed top spot through the early stages of Q3 and improved on his second run, before being eclipsed by Max Verstappen by just 0.005s.

However Verstappen’s time was deleted due to exceeding track limits and that elevated Leclerc back onto pole position.

“The car was really good and I think this is our biggest strength, when we get to a weekend like this, every lap counts, it’s important to start with a strong base set-up, that’s what we did,” said Leclerc.

“I felt good straight away so then in qualifying I tried to put it together, first lap felt better than the second lap but there was quite a bit of improvement and the second lap was good enough for pole.

“It’s a surprise for us, we definitely didn’t expect to be fighting for pole position here.”

Leclerc quipped that “I stopped thinking a long time ago” on expectations on account of Ferrari’s fluctuating form but outlined that the SF-23 provided him with confidence from the start of practice.

“I mean it’s very bumpy here, and the car felt good on the bumps, which gives you quite a bit of confidence to push on high speed,” he said.

“I think we’ve learned a massive amount this season, we learned how to maximise our car and that helped us to be more regularly at our 100 per cent and today is again proof so it’s a good sign for the future.”

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