Charles Leclerc ‘not confident’ about victory chances at Spa despite pole start

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Charles Leclerc doubts he will be able to hold off the two Red Bulls for victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, despite starting Sunday’s race from pole position.

Max Verstappen set the fastest time in qualifying but will drop to sixth on the grid due to a penalty for exceeding his gearbox quota for the season.

Leclerc, who was 0.877s off Verstappen, will take pole in the Red Bull’s absence, with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez starting second.

Red Bull is currently on a 12-race winning streak that dates back to last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Verstappen won last year’s Belgian Grand Prix by 17 seconds despite starting 14th on the grid.

Asked if he thought he could beat the Red Bulls in Sunday’s race, Leclerc said: “Not confident! Especially with the two Red Bull guys right behind.

“I think they’ve got a much better race car than we have. I mean it’s great to be starting first, and I think it gives us a great chance to have a great result.

“But to say that we’ll target the win, I think this would be a bit too optimistic. If there’s an opportunity for whatever reason, as always, I’ll try and get it. But I believe it’s going to be difficult to keep those guys behind.”

In contrast, Verstappen has little doubt an eighth consecutive victory is possible.

“I mean, last year we started 14th, and this year I think the car is better,” he said. “So I’m still targeting to win the race for sure.”

Perez will start the race ahead of Verstappen for the first time since the Miami Grand Prix in May, but remained cautious about his chances of securing his third race win of the season.

“I will try my best, I will try to get Charles at the start which is always hard. But I think it’s also a long race. High tyre degradation, so anything can happen on Sunday. We certainly have a good position.”

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