Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Leclerc: DRS problem explains part of daunting qualifying deficit to Norris

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc was satisfied by his performance in qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix but disappointed by his deficit to McLaren’s Lando Norris.

“I’m happy about my lap, actually very happy with my lap,” said Leclerc. “I put everything together. I did a good lap. I didn’t do any mistakes, put all of my best corners in one lap.

“But then on the other hand,” he explained. “When I’m looking at the gap in between myself and Lando, it quite… I wouldn’t go as far as ‘scary’, but it’s quite a bit.”

Norris qualified fourth-fastest. His 1’04.120 was 0.352 seconds quicker than Leclerc’s best Q3 lap. The Ferrari driver believes part of their deficit is occuring when they use DRS.

“We are losing quite a bit in the first sector, which is mainly the three DRS zones, for some reason. We don’t completely understand why yet because it’s mostly where we are opening the DRS and the others seem to be a lot stronger with the DRS on. So it’s not in all the straights, it’s mostly in those three straights.

“Then overall grip, probably, a little bit, but we are not that bad in the corners actually if you compare to the others.”

Ferrari’s race pace was poor at Paul Ricard and both drivers dropped outside of the points places during the race. But Leclerc says Ferrari can be more optimistic about their potential for Sunday’s grand prix.

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“We need to work hard for tomorrow,” he said. “I think that our race pace is better than our quali pace this weekend, which is quite unusual.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Gallery: 2021 Styrian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
“Sometimes we didn’t carry the that pace we had on Friday to the race on Sunday. So we really need to make sure we work well tonight, try to prepare in the best way possible for tomorrow and have a good race from there.”

Leclerc admitted that “a tiny bit” of qualifying pace had been sacrificed in order to improve Ferrari’s race pace, which had been badly compromised by tyre wear at the French Grand Prix. However, he said that it was “not as much as the gap is telling.”

Ferrari have begun an investigation of the problems they experienced in France. Leclerc said they haven’t “found the solution” at the Red Bull Ring but some improvements have been made.

“We found a few things and we have tried different things for this weekend. Our quali pace is a bit easier, a bit less strong, but hopefully that will help us in the race.

“Whether we have found the complete solution, I don’t think so. So we still need to do that.”

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2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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5 comments on “Leclerc: DRS problem explains part of daunting qualifying deficit to Norris”

  1. Ferrari is such a mystery. 2 poles and then nowhere.

    But Leclerc is such a great qualifier. I’m surprised it’s only 6-2 on Sainz. Was almost expecting a whitewash.

  2. That Ferrari isn’t competitive is somewhat understandable after their ‘shenanigans’ had to be rushed off their 2020 car and then a lot of that carried over into 2021 due to the postponed regulation change. But in this third full season, Binotto still seems to run a confused team that can’t get on top of fundamental issues. Worse, they keep finding new problems that they then have no answer to.

    1. Rodric Ewulf
      27th June 2021, 3:15

      But hey there’s no mind games at Ferrari garages like there was in 2019 between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, at least for now. It may be too early to tell but Charles and Carlos seems to get along, and Lando is a friendly rival of Charles (they do like to reference each other in interviews) who has a bromance with Carlos. It’s funny to follow those guys, isn’t it? :^)

  3. McLaren are better.

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