Leclerc P4 after “good feeling” in Canada: “I felt more at ease” with the SF-23 on all compounds

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Sunday saw an excellent recovery for both Ferrari drivers in Canada as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished P4 and P5 in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Qualifying had been a huge disappointment after both cars showed strong pace through Friday and FP3. It left them P10 and P11 on the grid for the race after a three-place penalty for Sainz.

Leclerc moved up to P4 as Ferrari opted against pitting under Safety Car conditions yesterday. The Monegasque driver had been stuck in a DRS train behind Hülkenberg in the early stages of the Grand Prix.

From there, he showed strong pace on a one-stop and strategy to finish 4th. Both Ferraris held off Sergio Pérez to claim 22 points for the team.

Leclerc was satisfied post-race as the good feeling he had with the car in the dry on Friday remained on race day.

“Considering where we were starting from, I think is the best we could have done today.

“Where I’m most happy is that the good feeling that I had on Friday during the race simulations was confirmed today.

“With any of the compounds we put on, whether it was on the medium or the hard, we were quite competitive.”

A consistent issue with the SF-23 throughout the season has been the fact that the car behaves completely differently on one set of tyres versus another. It’s even happened on the same compound.

That’s meant the Ferrari drivers have lacked confidence to fully push and predict what the car will do.

In Canada, however, it was much more positive and consistent according to Leclerc. It’s believed Ferrari made a breakthrough on setup during a Pirelli tyre test post-Spanish Grand Prix, too.

“Where we were really, really struggling the beginning of the season was consistency.

“We would go from a medium tyre, which was quite okay to a soft or hard tyre and then the car would fall apart completely.

“It seems that I went in quite a different direction this weekend in terms of setup. I felt a bit more at ease and that gave me a bit more consistency on all compounds.”

Team radio from yesterday’s race suggested Leclerc initially overruled his race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros on strategy and that was critical to the result.

Russell’s crash brought out the Safety Car on lap 12. As Marcos called for Leclerc to box, the Monegasque wanted to stay out so they could capitalise on the clean air that P4 would give them.

The Spanish engineer then stated just before pit entry to do the opposite to Norris. Leclerc did and it paid off handsomely.

The 25-year-old had the pace over the midfield runners who pitted to pull out a gap and rejoin ahead of them after his own stop.

Team radio conversation:

XM: “And box this lap, box.”

CL: “I don’t want to box, I’m fighting for…”

XM: “Opposite to Norris, opposite to Norris, opposite to Norris.”