Charles Leclerc, Sauber, Albert Park, 2018

“There’s so many buttons, it’s crazy”: Leclerc on the leap from F2 to F1

2018 F1 season

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Charles Leclerc discovered Formula One is a “big step up” from Formula Two in his first race weekend but said he found one aspect of grand prix racing which is not as challenging.

The Sauber driver, who is the reigning F2 champion, described his maiden event as “probably one of the most challenging weekends overall” in his career.

“In the junior formulas, OK, you step up, you have more power and more downforce,” said Leclerc. “This I managed to get to speed [with] quite quickly.

“But to be honest in Formula One there are so many other things that are new, so many people around and especially so many buttons, it’s crazy. And this helps also when you know what you can do with these buttons, it’s so powerful. The potential of improvement on that is huge and this will come with experience.”

Leclerc said he was “satisfied” with his first qualfying effort but has room to improve, including compared to his team mate Marcus Ericsson.

“The gap is not truly representative because I did a mistake,” he said. “But at the end it happens, he probably had some things to improve also so it’s just the way it is at the moment.”

“I will try to put everything together next time. [Qualifying] was one of my strong points last year in Formula Two. But Formula One is a big step up. And as I said also not being helped with the conditions, I didn’t manage to put everything together.”

He has also noticed much greater demands on his time now he is an F1 driver.

“I think it’s also a question of just getting used to it because obviously in Formula Two you go out of quali and if it went well you sleep on the sofa and 10 minutes before the race you wake up and you go to the track. It’s a little bit more complex than that but just to sum it up quickly now the days are a lot more busy. But it’s part of the job.”

According to Leclerc race starts are one of few areas which are easier to deal with now he’s in F1.

“In Formula Two it’s actually probably a bit harder the start. You don’t have any help in Formula One but the systems are so developed that it’s a little bit easier to have a good start, and if you get a bad start you don’t lose as much as you do in Formula Two.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on ““There’s so many buttons, it’s crazy”: Leclerc on the leap from F2 to F1”

  1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    30th March 2018, 11:12

    I remember he said that steering was also easier compared to F2 due to power steering.

  2. Even though there’s one less Button than in the previous 19 seasons.

    1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
      30th March 2018, 12:35


    2. *groan from the audience*

    3. you mean the kick cars on the side button?

  3. Now that is what i meant when i said the WEC guy from toro rosso was firing shots a bit when he said the things were seamless and easy and all.

    1. @mrboerns Did Leclerc arrive from the LMP1 WEC? Those cars are nearly as complex as F1(more complex in some ways) so it’s quite different compared to F2.

  4. It won’t take him long to pick it up. Charles will be world champion by the time he is 25- this kid is real Good!!

    1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      30th March 2018, 15:31

      I agree, I hope he’s in a Ferrari before too long, P13 at his first race is pretty impressive even know the Haas cars didn’t finish.

  5. His race in Australia was really decent for a rookie, finishing in front of Stroll (even if he had issues) is good! And only 1 tenth in Q from Ericsson who has been in F1 for 4 years.

    1. @francorchamps17

      I thought he was a talent compared to Lewis and Max, sorry but atleast beat Ericson in 1 session. Ham was sending shockwaves down the spine of a 2xWC from day one, fuel adjusted he beat a 2x WC in qually. Hope he beats Marcus next race convincingly

  6. Neil (@neilosjames)
    30th March 2018, 16:29

    This got me thinking again… one change I’d love to see introduced for 2021 is a massive reduction in buttons and driver-operated switches and modes. Cut the number of permitted engine modes and so on, and force them to make the next generation of power units functional with only a few more options than the owner of a high-end road car might have.

    Obviously they can’t dumb the wheel down entirely, but any step to get away from the whole ‘driving a very fast computer’ thing would be a positive for me.


    1. @neilosjames I could not disagree more.

      Technology is what makes formula1. You can’t go back to simpler times out of a sense of nostalgia.

      If memorizing Buttons is too technical for a driver… maybe they should try NASCAR. Nobody cared until Mercedes called it a party mode. Me, I call it a “we’re KILLIN’ it!” mode.

      1. David Hunter
        31st March 2018, 3:45

        These guys aren’t so much driving the cars ragged round the track as they are attending to altering brake bias, power modes, energy recovery etc., on a corner by corner basis. To me that’s not really the kind of racing I want to see. Give them one car, one set up, and let them race, pedal to the metal style. Less micro managing 500 different things that none of the fans can see or truly understand besides perhaps the super hardcore fans. If you understand all of it fair play to you but if you want this to be a popular and exciting sport for the ordinary punter to watch then modern F1 is more akin to watching grand masters of chess than watching racing drivers just push their cars to the limit.

      2. Cm cm – No! The driver being a gladiator makes F1, not stupid buttons on a wheel. Currently they have to much to do and it makes an F1 driver look like a computer programmer.

        I don’t think you appreciate the skill a Formula driver has, very few people on the planet can do what these guys do. Yet, to say they should just race NASCAR is actually an insult to both formula’s. F1 and NASCAR require skill, but its so different.

        As for “nobody cared until they called it ‘Party mode’- do some research buddy…………

    2. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      30th March 2018, 17:15

      And for 2021 Jean Todt can retire and take his crap halo with him

    3. The less buttons you have on the steering wheel the more the computer is in control.

      1. not necessarily, you could just have settings that are fixed for the whole race and can’t be adjusted by the driver.

    4. @neilosjames
      I could not agree more! There is too much for a driver to deal with these days- and get rid of the computer control as well.

      Lets make the driver just drive, with a few controls, and limit what the engineers can do to the car!! If I want to see a computing expert at work my lad can show his latest game of Fort Nite !

  7. I think all of this highlights that F1 has to revise it’s rules on testing. I know that testing is limited to keep costs down but I think it would be much better for F1 if rookies got extra practice time.

    Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Räikkönen, , Alonso, Button account for ALL of the titles since 2005 and ALL of them came into F1 during a time of *unlimited* testing. Ex.: There is no way that Hamilton would have been able to perform at the level that he did in his first two season without all of that extra track time. F1 driving is even more complex now and the rookies need more track time. Liberty should be smart enough to realize that having rookie drivers do well would generate a great deal of interest and publicity for the sport.

    1. Leclerc makes it sound like Sauber doesn’t yet have a simulator, which above all is very useful for training F1 rookies which buttons to press when. That’s one job you don’t need a perfect realistic, i.e. expensive simulator to achieve, so it does seem weak if Sauber doesn’t have one at all.

      1. @alesici, I believe it has been said that at their Hinwil, Switzerland HQ, Sauber have the best race simulator of any team in F1. Oh, no, hang on, wind tunnel! They have the best wind tunnel. But I would imagine the race simulator is also very good, then.

  8. There’s a lot of buttons, 19 other buttons.

  9. I have to agree, watching the cockpit cam. of Hamiltons Q3 lap it was pointed out that he changed the brake-bias setting for every corner, that was the easy one to see, no doubt the differential, power harvesting and other settings were also being adjusted, pretty impressive.

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