Leclerc plays down hopes of Ferrari fightback in Austria

Leclerc plays down hopes of Ferrari fightback in Austria

Vettel is set to start in ninth, with Kevin Magnussen - who qualified fifth - facing a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change prior to qualifying.

"Everything was looking good for Q3, my first lap wasn't ideal but on my second and final run, I made a mistake into Turn One and by Turn Three I had lost three or four tenths, otherwise I think we could have been P5".

He also warned that Spielberg's short lap, the altitude in the Styrian Alps, and forecasts of another weekend of searing heat, could make cooling a problem for everyone and throw up a race packed with unexpected twists. He was 0.259 faster than Hamilton, as Mercedes failed to match Ferrari's pace on the straights.

Hamilton was due to share the front row with Leclerc but the stewards found the Mercedes driver guilty of impeding Kimi Raikkonen. "I made a comment but I don't feel like I probably got out exactly what I was meaning".

Leclerc will now have fellow-21-year-old Max Verstappen of Red Bull alongside him.

Before we came here I was actually not really looking forward to it, to qualifying, because I knew that it was going to be hard - but actually with the new updates we've got on the auto, I think we gained a bit of performance and I was really happy with the vehicle throughout qualifying. "Tomorrow the start will be very important".

"I haven't done a long run but normally we are a little stronger in the race than qualifying".

It is Ferrari's first pole in an Austrian GP since Michael Schumacher got it in 2003, but it was a bittersweet success.

Before Q3 began, there was frantic activity at Ferrari where a side-pod of Vettel's auto was the centre of attention.

"It's a bit (of) a shame for the team as both cars should be closer to one and two", Leclerc said.

Charles Leclerc yesterday played down any immediate prospect of a Ferrari revival and admitted his Italian team will struggle against Mercedes at this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.

Despite those "emergencies" in Canada and France, Mercedes proved they have the resources and staff to cope and respond - demonstrating why they are an exceptional champion team and not exclusively reliant on Hamilton's extraordinary talent. "Very happy to bring the pole position back home, but we need to finish the job".

There was some confusion over whether Hamilton would start fifth or fourth on the grid, with confirmation coming late in the day from F1 that it would be fourth despite Mercedes initially believing it would be fifth. "We weren't. I think we managed quite well our race so it shows that still everything is possible but it's just very hard", he said.

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