Charles Leclerc was made to rue a disastrous Saturday at the Austrian Grand Prix that saw him plummet to 12th in the Sprint race.

Having qualified on the front row for Sunday’s race on Friday evening, Leclerc could not repeat his earlier exploits in the Sprint Shootout and ended up sixth overall.

Then hit with a three-place drop for impeding Oscar Piastri – the second time in four rounds Leclerc has received a grid penalty- he was unable to recover in the 24-lap dash.

Leclerc ceded position to Lando Norris after running wide at the final corner before being overtaken by the second McLaren of Piastri following a switch from Intermediates onto dry weather tires in the closing stages.

When asked if he was frustrated by the lacklustre performance, Leclerc said: “Not of Ferrari. Of myself, for sure, I am disappointed in the race overall – I haven’t been strong.

“But it’s been three races now that whenever I’m on slicks on a track that his half dry, half wet, I am nowhere. We need to understand on my side what I’m doing wrong in terms of driving.

“Obviously it seems to work on the dry, it seems to work also when it’s full wet, but when it’s in between the two I’m nowhere. Again, it’s been three races, qualifying in Barcelona where I thought there was a problem, Canada, and now here.

“We need to find it and improve in those conditions, as it’s compromising a lot our season, as it’s the third race in a row that we’ve had those conditions.”

Meanwhile, Ferrari partner Carlos Sainz enjoyed a much more productive outing, converting his fifth-place starting berth to end up third behind the two Red Bull cars.

The Spaniard had to overcome a brake-by-wire issue that had threatened his participation in the second qualifying session.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23. 01.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg, Austria, Sprint Day.

However, Ferrari was able to get his SF-23 ready for action and Sainz set the fastest time in SQ1, paving the way for him to score his first top-three finish in a race this season.

“Yeah, honestly very happy to be P3 today, after how the day started with the brake-by-wire issue in Q1 and only managing to do one lap,” Sainz said.

“To then progress the way we did through quali and put ourselves today in P3 I think is the maximum, so I’m very happy with this Saturday.

Sainz will line up third on the grid for the main event on Sunday – one position behind team-mate Leclerc – and he is excited about the prospect of continuing his upwards momentum into tomorrow.

“I’ve been very comfortable, especially today since the first lap of quali, that was actually my only lap of quali in Q1,” he explained.

“I looked very quick and very at ease with the car and kept the feeling through in the wet, and hopefully tomorrow in the dry I confirm a bit the step and we can be strong in the whole race.

“[Battling Max Verstappen is] a lot to ask, right now. I never say no, never say never, but you know how tricky it will be. We are in a position though with two cars right behind him and ready to attack.”

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