Leclerc: We “need to work to try and understand what we can do better” after F1 sprint struggles

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Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Starting alongside Max Verstappen P2 for the sprint race, it was always going to be difficult for Charles Leclerc to find a way passed the newly crowned triple World Champion. As the lights went out, Leclerc tried to wrestle his Ferrari down the inside of Verstappen but to no avail as the Dutchman aggressively defended against Leclerc as he ended up inside the pit entry and subsequently lost a position to Lewis Hamilton in the process. Leclerc had no issues with the defending from Vertappen and said he enjoys the tough battles.

“To be honest, I would have done exactly the same if I was in his position. So, it’s on the limit but as I’ve always said in the past, that’s the way I like to fight. So, this today didn’t play on my way but that’s fine. It’s part of racing, and I’m happy with it.”

Focusing then on not being able to keep up with the pace of Hamilton’s Mercedes and settling for the final podium place in the sprint, Leclerc says his team must understand how they can keep pace with Mercedes.

“I lost the position to Lewis, but they were a bit stronger today in race pace. We expected them to be stronger and they were, so we need to work to try and understand what we can do better to be a step ahead tomorrow.”

Expanding on his battle with Hamilton, the 26-year-old Monegasque says it was nice to battle but laments there was nothing he could do without being in DRS range.

“It was nice! I mean, I had a good start so then I saw a little gap on the left. Very little. I tried to go for it and then it was very tight into Turn One. I unfortunately lost momentum by fighting Max and Lewis will get alongside me. Then I still tried around the outside of Turn Two, which was quite tricky with cold tyres, and then getting to Turn Three, there was no way for me to keep going without colliding with Lewis. So, I just left off. And then it was very difficult from that moment onwards, because we lost quite a bit straightaway in the first lap, then we didn’t have the DRS and then I was just doing my own race. And the Mercedes, I mean, Lewis and Max, were too strong, especially in the first few laps. Then towards the end, we were more on the pace of Lewis, but it was too late.”

Finally looking forward to the main race, Leclerc is starting on pole with Verstappen down in sixth, and he’s hoping Ferrari can use their experience of teammate Sainz being the only driver to use the soft tyres during the sprint to their advantage. He wants to come away with the win to end a long drought going back to the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.

“Yeah, I mean, at the end we have quite a lot of data to analyse having the two cars on two different strategies. I think this will be a bit of a help for us because we know how the softs are behaving for tomorrow, so I hope we can take advantage of that and yeah, hopefully we can win tomorrow.”