Leclerc: “We’ve had quite a few disappointing days this year so it’s just in line with the rest”

Spread the love

Photo credits: Scuderia Ferrari

Charles Leclerc had another weekend to forget in this 2023 F1 season – all that was different was the venue. The Monegasque had already recorded his first Q1 elimination since the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix the previous day and with his team having taken his car apart to try and see what the issue was – as yet to no avail – Leclerc would start Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix from the pit lane. Inconsistent performance on the same hard tyre compound at different stages of the race meant it was hard to build confidence in the car. Leclerc would eventually cross the finish line in P11 and agonisingly just under a second from snatching an unlikely point. Leclerc’s post-race thoughts to media demonstrated the mindset of a person who is getting used to such confusion and uncertainty this year.


Charles Leclerc did not win the 2022 F1 Drivers’ World Championship, but he certainly gave eventual winner Max Verstappen a challenge – especially in the first third of the season. Fast forward a year and the situation could not be more different. Leclerc has left Spain still on 42 points whereas frontrunner Verstappen now has a tally of 170 to his name after his 5th victory from 7 Grands Prix this year.


The plan on Sunday was clear as Charles Leclerc, starting from the pit lane, chose to run the hard compound first. An obvious aim of running long to gain places through the field. However, things did not go to plan, and he shared his thoughts on this outcome post-race to media present in Barcelona.


“We had the hard which we expected to be a good tyre but for some reason it was so bad like no grip at all especially from the front. I mean the limitations were completely different to qualifying so today we were more expecting this but then for some reason the second-hard, I just do exactly the same thing and it feels really good. So, yeah, for some reason we seem to never really get in the right window of the tyre and when we do it’s a bit of surprise to us so there’s a lot of work we need to do,” explained the man currently P7 in the F1 Drivers’ Championship.


A worrying sequence of sentences from Charles Leclerc for any Tifosi listening in but sadly not a surprising set – as this has largely been the story of Scuderia Ferrari’s season so far. The comments of Leclerc also showed how he is not as surprised by this outcome as he may have been in previous seasons.

“We’ve had quite a few disappointing days this year so, unfortunately, it’s just in line with the rest of the year,”

Charles Leclerc is not one to succumb to negativity though and he already knows which area he feels his team should now direct their energy towards.


“I think where we really need to put all our focus is to try and be more often at the peak of our tyres and know how to manage them better. Two or three degrees makes a huge difference on balance and this weekend we’ve been struggling getting completely outside the window or in the window and be happy with the car. So, yeah, there will be a lot of work on that.” stated Leclerc.


Clear direction from the Monegasque but he was not finished yet as he later reiterated this point stating: “Our main focus is to try, and we just have to focus on ourself and try to understand what’s going on with those tyres and put them in the right window more often. Try to understand this upgrade and maximise it in the best possible way in the next few races and let’s see what happens.”


All this seems to point to hope rather than strategy but maybe that is good start for the team in red seeing how strategical calls have certainly proved to be their downfall in previous seasons. However, one of the issues which Leclerc and his team encountered on Sunday may take longer to figure out. Charles Leclerc expressed to media his confusion at how his car on the same compound (albeit during different stages of the race) could respond so differently.


“The thing is that today we really did exactly the same thing on both tyre sets. So, we will check with the team what we are doing on those two sets that are different in between the two sets and try and understand but it’s very, very difficult. As soon as the wind changed slightly, we’ve got a car that still changes quite a lot so very, very tricky,” claimed Leclerc.


The journalists in attendance then moved the line of discussion on to how it is possible that things can be so different a year later seeing how in 2022 the Monegasque dominated qualifying and was on pole. Although worth noting he did not win then either.

“We’ve got a car that just, it’s not like I’ve got understeer in the car, and I can say OK this is a very understeering car. I’ve got understeering on one tyre and then you get it again on the same hard and you’ve got a very oversteering balance. As a driver you just did exactly the same thing so it’s just inconsistencies but it’s very difficult to work on inconsistencies especially when you’re doing again exactly the same thing on both sets,”

One of the soundbites from Charles Leclerc’s Sunday post-race media call was easily:“To be honest, we are struggling more than I expected here.”

The much-loved man in red knows it is a challenging season at present but to be even worse than expected is a worrying prospect for all fans of the Prancing Horse.


Now, there is some respite to regroup with a weekend off (track wise at least) before the Canadian Grand Prix. A perfect opportunity to bounce back. After all, one silver lining is that the season is long but with the Silver Arrows having demonstrated great straight-line speed in Spain following their recent upgrades, it just puts more cars in front of Ferrari and Leclerc. A situation the Monegasque is becoming all too familiar with – as are his many millions of fans.