Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Leclerc explains car changes which led to his breakthrough

2019 Russian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc says the breakthrough in his performance this year came when he began adapting the car to his driving style, instead of the other way around.

The 21-year-old, who is in his second full season of Formula 1, was out-qualified by his team mate for all bar one of the first eight races. However he’s beaten Sebastian Vettel on every Saturday since then.

Leclerc said he’s made a series of three major steps forward during the season so far. “I started the year trying to adapt myself to the car,” he said. “After a few races I understood that maybe that wasn’t the right way to go forward and I asked the team to maybe adapt a little bit more the car to my driving. Then we did quite a big step forward.

“Then I don’t think I had the right mindset going into qualifying, which I changed. I went with an approach that was a lot more step-by-step from Q1 to Q3 to finally do the best lap time in Q3. That helped my qualifying pace.”

His third improvement came a few races ago when he found a way to improve his race pace and tyre management. “I had a set-up that was quite aggressive which was good for qualifying but not good enough for [the] race,” he said. “So I tried to adopt that too and it seems to work and pays off for the race.”

Since the summer break Leclerc has taken three pole positions, two wins and a second place – the latter a narrow defeat to Vettel which left Leclerc unhappy with the team’s strategy after it swapped their running order on the track.

“All of these things I go straight to analyse after a race what has gone wrong and what I need to do to improve and that’s what I’ve done and it seems to pay off.”

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8 comments on “Leclerc explains car changes which led to his breakthrough”

  1. LeClerk’s performances have been very impressive, there’s much more to come from this young (yet wise) driver.

    He’s also added some spice to the races! I’m not a Ferrari man myself, but it’s great to see the red cars squeezing some results out of races. LeClerk, Max and Lewis are really delivering. I am desperate to see more on track battles between them. I think next season will start much more close at the front.

  2. So I asked Nicolas if he could pressure Matia to change the car more to my liking, despite this seriously hampering Ferrari’s chances on winning the WCC. At first Matia refused, so Nicolas called his dad to put a little more pressure on Matia, and with a few promises regarding scrutineering my car and engine, he finally caved…..

    1. I’m a little out of the loop here, but who are Nicolas and his dad?

      1. @phylyp He’s joking about Todt’s family

        1. @spoutnik (and Dave) – thank you. TIL that Jean Todt’s son manages Leclerc. That’s interesting, and will have sent the stocks of tin foil manufacturers skyrocketing :)

    2. despite this seriously hampering Ferrari’s chances on winning the WCC

      err??? Seems to have had the opposite effect. Too late for this season, but looks good for next.

      1. That’s what the Chequered Flag podcast pointed out…imagine what the standings would look like had they kept Raikkonen? Singapore and Spa were arguably only Ferrari victories because the two Ferraris were able to work together…

  3. Nicolas and Jean Todt, presumably – not that knowing that helps understand the wordsoup above.

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