Leclerc: Ferrari edge over McLaren at COTA 'a good surprise'

Charles Leclerc insists Ferrari is focused on its own performance at COTA, but the Monegasque is nevertheless pleased... The post Leclerc: Ferrari edge over McLaren at COTA 'a good surprise' appeared first on F1i.com.

Leclerc: Ferrari edge over McLaren at COTA 'a good surprise'

Charles Leclerc insists Ferrari is focused on its own performance at COTA, but the Monegasque is nevertheless pleased to see both of the Scuderia's cars qualify ahead of championship rival McLaren.

Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz will line up respectively fourth and fifth on Sunday's US Grand Prix grid, the pair gaining a spot thanks to Valtteri Bottas' five-place grid penalty.

After struggling in practice with a car that lacked rear-end grip, Leclerc admitted that his performance in the Saturday shootout yielded a better result than anticipated.

"It went better than expected," said Leclerc. "We expected to be behind the McLaren this weekend, and it seems that we are more competitive than what we thought. So, it's a good surprise and it's nice to see that."

©Ferrari

While delighted with Ferrari's performance edge over McLaren which the Italian outfit trails by just 7.5 points in the Constructors' standings, Leclerc insisted that the Scuderia was focused in priority on doing its own thing.

"We try not to focus too much on the others, because this takes off an edge for nothing," he said.

"So we try to focus on ourselves try to maximize the potential of the car, especially on my side, it was a very tricky day.

"I lost a lot of confidence in the car in the second run in FP3 and then we built that confidence back in qualifying and everything went our way.

"So we try to focus on ourselves and then we're confident that the results will come."

  • Read also: Sainz expected second Q2 run on mediums to be faster

Contrary to Sainz, Leclerc will start his race on Sunday on Pirelli's medium tyre, like the overwhelming majority of those in the first half of the field.

"Everything came together, especially on the medium" he said. "On the first set in Q2, we did not expect to go to Q3 with that set, so it was a good surprise.

"And Everything is looking good for tomorrow."

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Brown: Hulkenberg 'towards the top' of McLaren IndyCar list

Zak Brown says F1 super-sub Nico Hulkenberg is "towards the top" of Arrow McLaren SP's list of candidates... The post Brown: Hulkenberg 'towards the top' of McLaren IndyCar list appeared first on F1i.com.

Brown: Hulkenberg 'towards the top' of McLaren IndyCar list

Zak Brown says F1 super-sub Nico Hulkenberg is "towards the top" of Arrow McLaren SP's list of candidates to fill the seat of the third car the IndyCar outfit intends to run in the series in 2023.

Hulkenberg, who is currently Aston Martin F1's reserve driver and who last raced full-time in F1 with Renault in 2019, has come to terms with the fact that his career as a Grand Prix driver is now behind him.

As the German driver contemplates his motorsport future, a potential opportunity to join the ranks of IndyCar has emerged.

Hulkenberg will test next week with Arrow McLaren SP at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, an outing provided by the IndyCar for evaluation purposes only.

But Brown is confident that Hulkenberg could become AMSP's top pick when the time comes for the IndyCar team to field a third car in the American series.

"We’re testing Nico on Monday," said Brown. "I think IndyCar rewards aggressive drivers, I consider Nico to be a driver who gets up on the wheel, as they say, an American term.

"Very excited to see him, I think he’ll enjoy it, Fernando [Alonso] enjoyed IndyCar, Marcus Ericsson’s enjoyed IndyCar."

Brown says that AMSP will likely enter a third car at next year's Indy 500, but there will be no full-schedule effort until 2023.

"We definitely won’t run a third full-time car next year, we will run a car at Indianapolis and we intend to run a car at some point later in the year in anticipation of a full-time program for a third [car] in 2023," said the McLaren Racing boss.

"Nico wants to see what IndyCar is about, we’ll see how Nico gets on, that’ll be part of the process, once we pull the trigger on that third car who might be in that car and Nico’s right towards the top of that list."

Hulkenberg's involvement with McLaren has come about as a result of a recommendation from McLaren F1 team boss Andreas Seidl who oversaw the German driver's victorious participation at Le Mans in 2015 with the works Porsche LMP1 team.

"Andreas introduced me to Nico," said Brown. "I knew Nico, but they’ve had some good history. Andreas helps when and where he can if I need a favour, so he definitely helped tee up Nico."

  • Read also - Rahal: Politics-free IndyCar is what F1 used to be

As for the 34-year-old former F1 driver, the Hulk is excited to see where his IndyCar test takes him.

"Of course I'm excited to go and drive again," he says. "I haven't been behind the wheel for I think it's pretty much a year now – since Nurburgring last year [with Racing Point]. That crazy last minute step-in!

"I'm excited, and I still feel I have a couple of good laps in my right foot. So it's finding out about the [Indy] car.

"I've watched the last couple of races, and my heart is in single-seater racing. Obviously F1 is not going to happen, so you look for the next best alternative, and IndyCar is definitely interesting."

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