Arthur Leclerc had spoken on Thursday about the need to improve his Qualifying performances, so he’ll have been pretty distraught to retire from the session without setting a laptime. But in an example of how quickly things turn around in Formula 3, the PREMA Racing driver is now preparing to start from pole on the reverse grid in Race 2, after a mammoth drive from 30th to 12th in Race 1.
It’s not the first time the Monegasque has put on a performance like that in F3, with a drive from 28th to 12th in Race 2 at Barcelona – although he was later demoted to P24 with a post-race time penalty - proving his overtaking abilities.
And while Leclerc feels that he can take plenty of positives from the two outings, he says they further highlight an issue the team need to work on.
“It makes me more confident for sure,” said Leclerc. “It does highlight that I need to work on Qualifying though and this will be a focus in the next event. But first, we have Race 2, and we are focused on that.
“I learned a lot of things that I can take into it. The track with these tyres is quite different. I have only raced here before in Formula Regional, and it is different in (terms of) managing overtakes and managing traffic. I am learning every time I step in the car, and it is making me stronger.
“The race was great, it was a really difficult with a lot of overtakes and a lot of action. It wasn't easy to keep up the pace because degradation was high in the traffic. I had to overtake a lot of cars, but in the end, we made it and now we start on pole for Race 2.”
Starting from pole, Leclerc is managing his expectations despite the brilliance of his Race 1 drive, the Monegasque mindful that he has not previously started from the front row at this level.
“I have always been further to the back, so I am happy, but I know that we need to work on our starts and find out how to improve,” said Leclerc. “I am confident. I want to win. I have always wanted to win, and I hope that we have the opportunity.
“We will focus on our own job and the results will come next. Focus on keeping up the pace, managing the tyres and trying to have a good race.”