Being more aggressive to make up for the understeer “leads me to make more mistakes,” says Leclerc

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Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

From the Temple of Speed to the slowest track of the calendar which requires quite a lot of downforce, Ferrari was certainly not expecting to come anywhere close to the impressive performance they had found last racing weekend in Monza.

As cars went out on track this Friday, however, things looked pretty good for the Scuderia who kicked off runnings with a P1 and a P3 in the first free practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix.

A finishing order that was confirmed – with reversed roles – in Saturday’s qualifying, with Carlos Sainz taking pole and Charles Leclerc in P3 only 0.079s behind.

“I’m very surprised, I definitely did not expect us to be so competitive: first and third is a good result for the team, now we need to confirm that tomorrow,” commented Leclerc at the end of the session.

Splitting the two teammates is George Russell, whose “Mercedes seems to be very strong in the high fuel runs.”

That and the extra set of medium tyres his W14 has, that Russell is sure will come in handy in a track where tyre degradation is high.

“Having said that, I don’t think we are far off, if anything we are the same and on a track like this it’s very difficult to overtake, so hopefully we can keep positions, I can make one position at the start and then finish one-two.”

Compared to other seasons the Monegasque seems to be struggling more with an SF-23 that appears to be more suited to his teammate’s driving style.

“It’s not only in the last races,” he replied when asked about it by Sky Sports Italy at the end of quali.

“Honestly we’ve had a bit of understeering all year, which means I have to be very aggressive on the pedal and that leads me to make a few more mistakes this year.”

Just as it happened during qualifying, when he lost the rear coming out of Turn 17, resulting in a loss of lap time.

“We are trying to improve, but we should also look at the whole. If we look at where we were in Zandvoort compared to the others, and where we are now in a high downforce track like this one, we took a step forward. That is positive,” he concluded.

Acknowledging the chaos with cars slowing down and queuing up around Turn 16 and 19 in Q1, he commented: “All of us drivers were against this rule and I think it was the right choice.”

“I think the real problem is that for many years there was a gentleman’s agreement, that we talked it out between us drivers to say that we shouldn’t overtake each other in the last sector when one is slowing down.”

“But this year one or two people didn’t respect it and so everyone stopped respecting it and now it’s a mess, because it’s a race inside the race, third sector looks like a karting race.”

“So I don’t know, we have to find new solutions because this way it is a bit too extreme. I’m not saying I was perfect, but now it’s a jungle in third sector.”

“I was on the edge passing before the chequered flag and when we get this message on the radio we all try to do our interests and that needs to be ruled in some way, but I don’t have a solution in mind yet.”