Leclerc: Lack of answers regarding Barcelona problems is “a little bit worrying”

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Speaking to the media ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc admitted that Ferrari’s performance to date has failed to meet the team’s early expectations.

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

“Overall, I think all the team is not satisfied with the performance we are showing on track and it is very far off our expectations at the beginning of the season. We are very clear with ourselves and this is very clear to us.”

Despite bringing an upgrade package to Barcelona, the Italian outfit struggled to keep up with Red Bull and the improved Mercedes; fifth for Sainz and eleventh for Leclerc was ultimately the best they could manage on the day.

The Monégasque driver suspected there was a problem with his SF-23 during the qualifying session, as he reported handling issues and a noticeable loss of performance, particularly in the left-hand corners; he shockingly failed to progress beyond Q1 for the first time since 2019. After failing to identify the cause of Leclerc’s problems trackside, the team was due to inspect the car on-site in Maranello.

Asked whether Ferrari had finally discovered the cause behind his Barcelona woes, Leclerc replied, “No, we didn’t.”

“We need to understand these things and for now we don’t have the reason, this is a little bit more worrying.

“That’s where we need to push, to understand the reason of it, because obviously the feeling was really, really bad.

“To be honest it’s the first time that it happened in my career. If I look in all the left-hand corners that’s where I was struggling,” he explained.

“I said straightaway after qualifying and we can see that from data clearly I’m losing six-and-a-half, seven tenths in all the left-hand corners. But there are no real reasons for it yet so I cannot say much more, to be honest.”

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Leclerc added that race pace is a key area Ferrari is keen to improve going forward.

“Looking ahead, we need to just keep pushing, bring upgrades as quickly and regularly as possible, which is our aim now to try and close the gap to the guys in front and also the gap in terms of race pace, because even though I struggled a lot on Saturday, Sunday wasn’t great either.

“So that’s where we are trying to push at the moment. What gives me confidence, though, is that there is a clear direction that we want to work and improve. This is what makes me believe in the project.”

Asked about his expectations for the weekend ahead, Leclerc confirmed that Ferrari hasn’t brought any new upgrades to Montréal, and will instead focus on maximising the existing package.

“On this track we don’t have anything new so I don’t think we’ll have any miracles, but we need to just try and maximise our package, understand more this package, the way we should set up the car in order to maximise it.

“In Spain, we were quite easily off the window and then we’re losing quite a lot of performance.

“So we’ve learned a lot and I’m pretty sure we’ll be in a better place for this weekend, but I don’t think it will be a huge step forward.

“Again, I think we expect Aston Martin to be very strong this weekend, we expect Red Bull to be very strong this weekend. We struggle to understand exactly where Mercedes will be compared to us.

“But we have to focus on ourselves, try to maximise our package. It’s a very challenging track, with the weather also, we don’t really know which way it’s going to go.”

Teammate Carlos Sainz echoed this sentiment, saying that Ferrari needs to keep making progress.

He added that in his opinion the track characteristics in Barcelona belied any potential performance boost the upgrade may have given Ferrari.

“I think we did also a step [forward]. It was just probably the worst possible track for us to go racing at right now, with the weakness that we have in our package.”

Asked to clarify, the Spaniard explained: “It’s a very high degradation circuit, which is rough on tyres, which we are tough on tyres. And it has a lot of high-speed corners, which is exactly where our aero right now is not great.

“Two big things combined meant that it was always going to be a tough weekend for us, didn’t matter about the upgrades. I’m more confident coming here.”