Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Leclerc’s tyre performance felt “extremely weird” in Austin

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In the round-up: Charles Leclerc was baffled by the performance of his tyres in the first stint during the United States Grand Prix.

What they say

Leclerc said one of his tyres felt particularly strange at the start of the race, when he dropped back quickly from the leaders.

I have been struggling massively. The first stint I’ve got no explanations for this stint to be completely honest. I don’t know, I don’t know. I’m a bit lost with the first stint, to be completely honest. Really off the pace.

I never found the grip. The front-left tyre felt extremely weird. So I think we need to analyse to see whether everything was fine with the tyres or not.

The second and third stints were a little bit better, but still far off whether we want to be.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Does Bottas have a hope of ever catching Hamilton?

I think Bottas is a good driver. Perhaps better than a good half of the grid – but there are drivers that are slightly superior to him. Drivers that are a little more consistent in their pace, a little more aggressive in overtaking – perhaps a little faster over one lap. Unfortunately for him, despite putting in the best year he’s had so far he’s still partnered to one of those drivers that’s got a little edge up on him.

That said being a comfortable second to the only other guy driving the same car as you while beating everyone else isn’t such a bad place to be. Bottas needed to ‘step up’ a level to compete with Hamilton for the title last year, and he achieved it this year – almost. Maybe next year Bottas can make another ‘step’ forwards? Or maybe this is his level. Some drivers are good enough to win races, get poles and podiums but not quite good enough to take a title.
Adam (@Rocketpanda)

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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 “Leclerc’s tyre performance felt “extremely weird” in Austin”

  1. Vettel also complained about the front left, perhaps both Ferraris had the same problem which for some reason in Vettel’s manifested itself by reaching a point where his suspension failed

    1. Vettel had suspension damage he failed totally while trying to do left hand comers full on understeer.

      Leclerc just had poor grip.

      I don’t think on first look they had similar issues. Vettel suspected car damage right away after first few corners.

      1. my idea is that in Vettel’s case it was worse, as it looked like a fatigue fracture

        while Leclerc might have had to deal with something similar but not as severe, some suspension component that flexed more than it should for example

        just putting possibilities out there, I’m sure Ferrari will revise both cars

    2. what i find weird is that the same set of tires was good enough to get them to Q3 and they didn’t find any issue during that quali lap

      1. I’m basing my comment in the theory that Vettel suffered a fatique fracture on this suspension, so at that point it might be fine, and somewhere between the end of qualifyinh and the first lap the thing failed

        the start of the GP would be a good point for that to happen, since there is a lot of energy being applyed to the rear axle

        suppositions only

  2. Re:COTD @rocketpanda Agree and being in the best car, even paired with an all time great on the other side of the garage is the best place for someone like Bottas to be because, as Rosberg proved, it only takes a single lucky and stronger than usual year for a Bottas level driver to win that single championship and get into the history books big time. It took a huge toll on him to beat Hamilton over a season once even with a bit of luck but history won’t remember it , only that Nico Rosberg is the 2016 WDC. Bottas must be hoping for the same thing.

    1. I think also that Hamilton always believed he had the measure (and would have in 2016 but for a mechanical failure) of Nico and was far more distracted than he has been post 2016 because to me he didn’t show the sort of determination back then as he does now.

      It’s been a bit like Vettel when he almost got beaten by Webber – he came back so much stronger in the following year he was almost untouchable.

      Bottas has suffered pretty much the same fate. He’s joined the team with a very different and much more focused Hamilton who, now he has his sights on number 7, will be very difficult to beat next year too.

  3. Luca De Montezemolo made scathing remarks about Leclerc recently. Even in Austin Leclerc’s tone towards team was quite wrong when he was instructed to avoid kerbs.

    1. Chaitanya To be honest, he only wanted to know why, and I didn’t find the tone of voice with which he asked wrong.

      1. Asking for explaination is perfectly fine but the way he only asked for explaination 1st instead of telling engineer ok/copy for instructions and then asking for asking for explaination.

        1. I think you are reading too much into it Chaitanya but I do see your point too. The “WHY” was quite abrupt.

          At the end of the day some drivers can still be aware of things like manners and tone whilst going at 200mph, others could not care less and only have one goal in mind, the result and I think this is well understood by the engineers they interact with and not taken personally.

          Bono sometimes sounds pretty vexxed when Lewis is short with him but it’s pretty clear they have a relationship like brothers.

          1. There have been multiple occasions this year where Leclerc has shown distrust in team(including vocal rant) and engineers including gross apathy towards safety of on track rivals.

        2. Agree, lec does not trust his team. Justified or not, a very bad thing!

    2. He’s is just doing the same as his manager Nicolas Todt, yelling at Binotto is one example… It appears that Ferrari might succumb to internal battles instead of fighting their rivals. So sad to see this magnificent team falling into this trap.

  4. Ferrari’s lack of pace was as questionable as in Hungary, and indeed weird.

    The COTD brings up interesting points, and yes, that might be it.

    1. The answer is very simple mate. From the Singapore on, Sebastian’s performance ramped up, becoming a serious threat to Charles thanks to different setup approach. Hence, Nicolas pulling some strings to revert the car to setup approach prior to Singapore led to disaster. That’s how I see it, it might be something different but I’ve lost impression that Binotto is managing Scuderia completely.

  5. These ‘what they say’ quotes are a joke, @keithcollantine.
    They have been reported widely via other sites for days; probably from a post-race press conference or something.
    I prefer the old round-up where you cover what was in the news the previous 24 hours rather than promoting old quotes without clearly mentioning where and when they were picked up.

    1. Quotes: Dieter Rencken

      Good job and thanks Dieter.

  6. Yay COTD.

    Thinking about it more, Bottas’s biggest hurdle now is that when he joined Mercedes he had to ‘dig deep’ to find the ability to beat Hamilton. And then the next year he had to ‘dig deeper’, and then the year after that he had to ‘dig’ even further. Now next year he’s got to ‘dig’ a little more. Bottas 3.0? Bottas 4.0?

    I can’t imagine how demoralising it must be to give your absolute best and continually come up short no matter how ‘deep’ you dig, and the worst – and most soul crushing part of it is that Hamilton doesn’t look like he’s having to dig at all.

    1. this hurts cause its so true

  7. Is it just me or does it feel a little weird for a driver that just 3 years ago was driving F3 car is starting his own karting brand. Even though he’s now a race winner and settled his seat for the future but still feels a bid odd. Imagine if Alonso had started FA racing brand in 2003.

    1. Their is a whole pr team and management around lec. His net value rises with Ferrari. Time to capitalize on it.

      1. Yeah. Maybe that’s why

  8. RE: COTD. I would compare Bottas-Hamilton pairing to something like Berger-Senna in McLaren. No one can deny that Berger was a good driver, and he had days when he was unbeatable, but he never managed to keep that performance level over a season, and that is what you have to do when your teammate is one of the best drivers. The same situation is with Bottas: you are not allowed to have races like Hockenheim or Hungaroring, as by default your opponent does fewer mistakes than you.

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