Valtteri Bottas took pole position in qualifying after the Finn pipped his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.006 seconds.
Leclerc came close to the front row of the grid with his final attempt in round three of qualifying, as the Ferrari driver ended up just 0.079secs off Bottas and will start Sunday’s race in third.
But the Monegasque driver believes the team’s tyre choice will make the start of the race interesting, as his Ferrari will be running the softer compound compared to Mercedes, who have both their drivers on medium tyres.
“We are very, very close to them, it’s a shame we missed out on pole position by eight hundredths but they were quicker today,” Leclerc said.
I will give it everything and hopefully gain some positions at the first few corners
“We did an audacious choice of tyre for the start, softer than our opponents.
“I will give it everything and hopefully gain some positions at the first few corners.”
Leclerc thinks that if he can manage to pass the Mercedes ahead of him he might have a chance of winning the race at Silverstone, even though he will undoubtedly have to pit before both Hamilton and Bottas.
“Seeing the race simulations I don’t think there’s much difference between the two tyres,” he added.
“I don’t think it’s night and day, to be honest.
“If we can overtake them at the start, we might have a chance.”
And the tyre choice was backed by Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto, who insisted the move “was planned in order to add in another variable” into the F1 race.
“We are well aware this will be a long race during which tyre wear will be a factor for everyone,” Binotto said.
“But our hope is that we have found the right set-up to also allow us to go well over a long stint.”
Although Leclerc got within touching distance of his rivals the same cannot be said of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, as the German will start sixth on the grid.
The four-time Formula One world champion has been out qualified for three straight races by his young team-mate and Vettel admitted he found qualifying “a bit strange” on Saturday.
“I just didn’t have the speed. Usually it’s pretty clear that you go faster from Q1 to Q3 without doing anything but that didn’t happen today. It’s a bit strange,” Vettel said.
“I didn’t have a great feel for the car and it just didn’t come.
“I think he [Charles] did a good job but, for me, I don’t have an answer now. He seems to gain everywhere.
“The race is never a problem. I’d rather start further up but, in the race, normally it’s fine.”
Ahead of Sunday’s race at Silverstone Hamilton leads the driver standings with 197 points.
The British driver is 31 points ahead of Bottas, who is on 166, and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen splits Mercedes and Ferrari in third on 126 points.
Hamilton is 74 points ahead of Vettel and 92 points ahead of Leclerc, who is currently fifth on 105 points.
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