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In an urban and winding layout, with 23 curves, where the aerodynamics of Mercedes and Red Bull had to be imposed on the power of the Ferrari engine, Charles Leclerc invented a 'pole' that only further enhances his immense talent. For the fifth time in 15 races, he will command the grid, now ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. The two great referents of the last decade already know their gifts of future champion.
Leclerc's performance on Saturdays now brings us the scent of vintage pilots. After completing the training at Alfa Romeo, his debut year at Scuderia keeps obvious similarities with those of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher or Hamilton himself. Nothing less. In 1985, during his first season in Lotus, the Brazilian signed seven 'poles' in 16 races. In 1994, The Kaiser was awarded six in 14 grand prizes of his triumphant course in Benetton. In 2007, the British pentacampeón achieved another six in the 17 races of his first year in McLaren.
The pure speed at a turn, territory reserved for geniuses, seems to be one of the specialties of the Monegasque. At 21, his emergence is earlier than that of the aforementioned legends. And the first to suffer is Vettel, exceeded this season in points (182-169), victories (2-0) and qualifying sessions (9-6). "It is the least expected pole and that's why it tastes better. Here nobody gave us favorites, not even ourselves," Leclerc said yesterday at Sky Sports .
Not only in the first sector
In any case, the deeds of yesterday at Marina Bay can give another air to this end of the season. No one should discuss Hamilton's sixth title, with 99 points ahead of Max Verstappen and 102 over Leclerc. But Mercedes cannot lose sight of these last seven dates. At the moment, its only slips came under the extreme heat of Austria, the crazy rain of Germany and the power of Ferrari in the long lines of Spa and Monza.
In Marina Bay, the strength of the Ferrari 064 V6 engine was not only evident in the first sector. "They also earned us time in the corners. They were simply faster everywhere," admitted Toto Wolff, Mercedes boss.
"Do something special"
Of course, the arodynamic package released by Ferrari began to give the first results in Marina Bay. "It's a big boost for the team. We came here hoping to do something special and I think that at least we've already achieved that," Mattia Binotto valued.
The head of the Maranello expedition could not hold optimism. "We have identified our weaknesses and we are addressing them. We must still reduce the distance with our rivals, but we are going in the right direction," closed the man who seems to have made Maurizio Arrivabene completely forget.
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- Sebastian Vettel
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