By Abhishek Takle

(Reuters) – Charles Leclerc has warned Ferrari fans not expect any miracles on Sunday after the Italian Formula One team was knocked out of the second phase of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

“Well to be honest, it’s very difficult to find an explanation,” said the Monegasque who claimed his first grand prix win from pole position in last year’s Belgian race but on Saturday he qualified only 13th.

Team mate Sebastian Vettel also had a poor qualifying session and qualified 14th.

“It’s a big step back compared to the others so we need to try and find the main issue, try and address it,” added the 22-year-old, whose time on Saturday was nearly half-a-second slower than his pole position time from last year.

“I can also understand the fans at home that are very disappointed.

“It’s understandable but as drivers we will try and make the best race possible tomorrow even though we can’t expect any miracles.”

Ferrari were dominant at the Spa-Francorchamps track in 2019, finishing one-two in every practice session and locking out the front row in qualifying.

Already struggling this season and fifth in the standings — behind Mercedes, Red Bull, Racing Point and McLaren — they were not expecting a repeat of that performance.

The sport’s most successful team suffered new lows this weekend.

Vettel finished last in the final practice session on Saturday morning with Leclerc 17th, leaving fans wondering if the Maranello-based squad would even make it out of the first knockout phase of qualifying.

They did survive the opening 18 minutes of the qualifying hour.

But when they failed to make it into the pole position shootout, it marked the first time since the 2014 British Grand Prix that neither of the red cars made it into the top 10.

“It is the true picture, it’s what the car can do around here today,” said four-time world champion and 2018 Belgian winner Vettel, who is leaving the team at the end of the year.

“We tried to do our best, it’s obviously the car we have and the car we know for the whole season so far.

“So it’s not a surprise today.”

(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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