Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2019

Leclerc believes it will be “very difficult” to fight Mercedes

2019 British Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc says Ferrari are closer to Mercedes than they expected to be but expects it will be hard to fight them for victory in the British Grand Prix.

“If we look at the Friday race simulations I think it’s going to be very difficult to fight with [them],” said Leclerc. “[Lewis Hamilton’s] race run was very strong.”

Leclerc will start third with the two Red Bulls behind separating him from team mate Sebastian Vettel. The Ferraris will begin the race on soft compounds tyres but their immediate rivals have chosen the mediums.

“Red Bull seems to be very quick also in the race run so it’s going to be tricky,” Leclerc said. “If we manage to gain some positions at the start, it’s a track where it’s quite hard to overtake so then we have some chances to keep them. But if not I guess it’s going to be very difficult to fight with them.”

The Ferrari driver said he was “very happy” with his lap in Q3 and said there was little chance he could have beaten either of the Mercedes.

“In the last corner I maybe could have done a little bit better but not much,” he said. “Overall I think we are very happy with the performance, very close to Mercedes.

“We did not expect it, we thought we would be struggling more this weekend. We have been struggling since FP1 with the front end of the car, still in qualifying, maybe a little bit less. So it’s a good qualifying for us. Of course I hoped for a higher position but that is the best we could have done today.”

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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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7 comments on “Leclerc believes it will be “very difficult” to fight Mercedes”

  1. I thought Leclerc was starting the race on mediums… He looked incredibly fast on them on Q1 and Q2. If Leclerc is starting on softs, his only chance for victory would involve jumping both Mercedes cars on lap 1… which seems doubtful.

    Another strategic blunder from Ferrari?

    1. I just rewatched that section to check, he was around 1 second clear of P10 at the time they sent him out for a 2nd run, so everyone P2-P10 would need to improve by up to 1 second in order to knock him out. Not very likely. Additionally, he was 100% safe before he completed his lap on softs, so there was absolutely no reason to finish the lap unless Ferrari would rather start on them.

      Maybe Ferrari are committing to a 2 stop due to their high tyre wear on the long runs. In which case they’re likely not in contention for the win unless the others hit troubles or also struggle with tyres (or rain/safety car shenanigans).

      1. You’re probably correct. It looked like Leclerc’s time was quick enough to get in to Q3 even without the run on the softs. Maybe they are assuming a 2 stop is the only way to go… Or maybe they figured out that the only way to beat Mercedes was an alternate strategy. In a straight fight in normal conditions, Ferrari would lose out due to slower race pace.

        1. @todfod More than that, it was actually quick enough to top Q2.

      2. @keithedin, well, there were a few teams wondering if they might be forced into a two stop race given that the front tyres are wearing reasonably heavily, so it might not be a bad strategy decision if other teams are forced into an unplanned two stop race – and given both drivers are starting on those soft tyres, they must be going for it with both drivers.

        They might also be thinking of the weather forecast for tomorrow, as it looks like the weather could be even cooler tomorrow than it was today – I believe that it’s currently predicted to be only 17ºC when the race starts, and will be fairly cloudy as well.

        That does suggest the track temperatures could be fairly low, and we have seen most teams need a lap or two to get the medium and harder compounds into their working temperature range. Ferrari might be betting that the lower temperatures might give them a chance of eking the soft tyres out slightly longer than predicted, and might also give them an advantage on the opening laps when others might be struggling to get their tyres up to temperature.

        It might be worth a gamble on getting a good start and hoping to pick off a few rival drivers in those opening laps, then hoping that their strong straight line speed might give them a chance of holding onto those positions – it’s a long shot, but it might be worth a gamble. Vettel might be a bit too far down the grid for that gamble to pay off fully, but Leclerc might think it worth a shot if he can pick off one, or maybe both, of the Mercedes drivers on the opening lap or two.

        1. Great analysis, anon, you said all I had in mind and then a lot more. Make yourself an account, pleeeeeeeease!!!

    2. @todfod Yes, he indeed is going to start on the softs as he improved on his later Q2-attempted unlike the Mercedes and the RBR-drivers.

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