Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022

Leclerc “feels better” despite retirement thanks to Ferrari’s improved pace

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc stayed upbeat in the wake of his retirement from the lead of yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix, saying he was encouraged by Ferrari’s improved pace in the race.

The team experienced poorer tyre degradation than rivals Red Bull in previous races and introduced a package of updates for its F1-75 in Spain. Leclerc said the team’s performance in the race prior to his retirement showed they had worked.

“I feel better after this weekend than I felt after the last two weekends,” said Leclerc, who finished second to Max Verstappen in the previous two rounds. “Of course, there is this issue that we had on the car, and I’m very disappointed. But on the other hand, I think there’s plenty of positive signs other than that, throughout the whole weekend.

“Our qualifying pace with the new package worked out as expected, which is not always a given, and everything was working well and our race pace and tyre management.

“Tyre management, after the last two races, we’ve been struggling quite a bit compared to Red Bull and today for us it was strong. So in those situations I think it’s good to also look at the positive and they are there today.”

Leclerc had a 12 second lead when a suspected power unit problem struck on the 27th lap of 66. He believes he would have won without it.

(L to R): Max Verstappen, Red Bull; George Russell, Mercedes; Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Spanish Grand Prix in pictures
“With the laps I had done, honestly, everything was going really, really well,” he said. “I think it would have been difficult for them to catch back because obviously there was already quite a bit of a gap and we had a very good degradation also on the soft tyre, and could do quite a bit more laps compared to them. So overall, I think we had this race under control.”

The Ferrari driver admitted the retirement, which cost him the lead of the championship to Verstappen, was “a disappointment.” But he offered encouragement to his team after the setback.

“Obviously, once you’re fighting for a championship, you know that every point is very valuable. But over the course of a season, I think it always more or less happens. Which is not an excuse, for sure. I’m pretty sure that everyone is already working so hard to understand all of it and to fix it as quickly as possible.

“But everyone is as disappointed as me today with what’s happened. There was just no reason for me to be angry at anybody going out the car. So I just went to see the mechanics to cheer them up a little bit because they were pretty down.”

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2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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8 comments on “Leclerc “feels better” despite retirement thanks to Ferrari’s improved pace”

  1. One would think that Ferrari might be at something of an advantage at Monaco with their balance and being fast on cornering. However, this pace does possibly seem to be more about fast/medium speed corners rather than the very slow ones at Monaco.

    On the other hand we have Leclerc’s notorious dearth of luck at Monaco and his capacity to make the occasional mistake. So he will be hoping for some good fortune at his home circuit this time.

    If Red Bull are able to win in Monaco as well, it would be quite a blow to Ferrari I think in terms of the championships.

    1. True. It will be 5-2 for RBR in 7 races and really hard for Ferrari to turn things around unless they come up with a game-changer update for the car. They really need to get a 1-2 in Monaco just like in 2017… but that won’t mean anything if they won’t deliver in remainder of the season. After all, in 2017 VET had better results than LEC (and HAM) in the first 6-7 races… yet they failed to take even the fight to the last race. Also, hopefully for LEC, Spain was his sole tech problem in a race for the entire season.

      1. As for reliability I only hope it’s a fair thing: now they’re pretty even in points lost to bad luck, so I don’t mind an issue for leclerc at some point if also verstappen gets one etc., I want to see things decided by driver\team performance, a bit like last year eventually, which wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for masi’s mistake in the end.

    2. Leclerc is usually good in qualifying, feels better than verstappen, so if he can take pole and there’s no unreliability, I don’t see how he wouldn’t be able to win at monaco, even verstappen used to make plenty of mistakes at monaco but the first time he led in 2021 he also led the whole race without mistakes.

  2. I get his positive outlook, personally – there’s always been the general consensus of “if you’re fast in Spain, you’ll be fast everywhere”, and up until his retirement, this was the most convincing lead he’s had in a GP.

    It definitely looks like Ferrari’s upgrades helped alleviate their biggest weakness – tyre wear. The championship fight is still well and truly on.

    1. Hmmm don’t know what to say…. I just hope you’re right. Not convinced yet because until lap 9, when VER went off-track, the gap between him and LEC was ~2sec. So, until lap 9, it didn’t look at all like an easy win for LEC. There were still big chances for a VER win in front of LEC.

    2. Imo there were far more dominant races this year than spain.

      1. someone or something
        24th May 2022, 2:29

        Yeah, Australia.
        Spain wasn’t too special, Verstappen’s spin just made Leclerc’s life much easier. Up to that point, Leclerc had looked in control, but there was nothing to suggest he was going to drive away never to be seen again. After Verstappen’s spin, it was a different race. Verstappen was stuck in traffic, Pérez was nowhere near Leclerc’s pace, while Leclerc was able to take things a bit easier without Verstappen on his tails (his lap times dropped off by about a second after Verstappen’s spin), which brought him within reach of a comfortable 2-stop-strategy. At this stage, he was clearly in control, and there was no one to challenge him.
        However, none of this was foreseeable by lap 8, with Verstappen only a reasonable 2 seconds behind, prohibiting the sort of pace and tyre management that allowed Leclerc to dominate the first half of the race. Whether or not Verstappen was simply preserving his tyres by keeping his distance, and whether he would’ve been able to apply pressure at a later stage, possibly on the C2 compound, is pure conjecture. In any case, the race up until Verstappen’s spin didn’t disprove that this was a possibility. The race could just as well have turned into another Melbourne or another Miami, but a gust of wind at the wrong time and a popped turbocharger have left us wondering which team has left Barcelona in stronger form, Ferrari or Red Bull.

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