Laurent Mekies reflected on an ‘intense and complex’ Qualifying session for Scuderia Ferrari at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, and it ended with a pole position for Carlos Sainz Jr.
Max Verstappen may have set a blistering pace during the Qualifying hour in Belgium, but the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver went into the session knowing he would be starting towards the back of the pack following pre-weekend engine component changes and grid penalties.
Charles Leclerc was in the same boat in the other Ferrari so was used to benefit Sainz during Q3 with a tow down the Kemmel Straight on both of his Qualifying runs, although a scruffy lap meant the Spaniard was unable to improve on his second run.
But it was enough to beat the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez and take pole position, while Leclerc will drop to sixteenth thanks to his penalties.
Mekies, the Sporting Director at Ferrari, says the aim on Sunday is to bring home a lot of points with both drivers, although it will be more difficult for Leclerc starting so far back.
“It was a very intense and complex qualifying,” said Mekies. “We had very strong opponents this afternoon, especially Verstappen. But at the end of the day neither Max nor Charles were able to fight for a place on the front row because they both have a PU penalty so we could do our proper qualifying work only with Carlos.
“It was very tight and it took quite a bit of teamwork – with Charles and Carlos towing each other – to be able to extract the last thousands of a second to get Carlos on P1 for tomorrow. They did a super job together and the team supported them well with a perfect execution.
“With Charles the priority was to beat the other cars that also had PU penalties today, and ultimately we decided at the last moment to run him on a new set of soft tyres in Q3 to secure the highest position possible. It still leaves him with a very healthy new tyre allocation for tomorrow to battle strongly through the field.
“It will be an intense race for Carlos, who will have to use all his skills to defend first position. I’m sure that we will have the chance to bring home lots of points.”