“Angry” Leclerc admits he took too much risk with “very aggressive set-up”

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc said he was angry with himself after crashing out of qualifying, leaving himself seventh on the grid for the Miami Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver has had two crashes in as many days at the Miami International Autodrome. He went off in the fast left-hander of turns six, seven and eight during second practice yesterday, damaging the front of his car.

Leclerc slipped up again in qualifying, spinning off at the same corner during Q3. Afterwards he told media including RaceFans “I’m very disappointed with myself – same mistake as yesterday in the same corner.”

He admitted he took too many chances in the session as he tried to bridge the gap between Ferrari and Red Bull.

“I know that qualifying is my strong point and obviously I am taking more risks in Q3,” said Leclerc. “That pays off nine times out of ten. But obviously this is a weekend where twice I put it in the wall and this is just not the level where I want to be.

“Again I’m just very disappointed with myself. I did a great lap in the first lap of Q3. But there’s no point to say that when you don’t finish the lap and you lock up in the last corner, and the second I put it in the wall. So again, really angry with myself.”

Conditions were particularly challenging in qualifying, as the recently relaid track surface gained grip quickly, and gusting winds caught out several drivers. Leclerc said that exposed a particular weakness in Ferrari’s SF-23.

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“We know we have a weakness in terms of tailwind,” he said. “Whenever we have tailwind we suffer more from other cars.

“But I wanted that car to be very tricky because I knew that’s the way you need to drive this car. And today it was too much.”

“I put myself also in a difficult situation because I wanted a very aggressive set-up for qualifying, knowing that this was a set up I will need to extract the most out of the car,” he explained. “I probably did a step too far and this is something I’ll look at after the weekend.”

Leclerc took pole position for both of last weekend’s races at Baku City Circuit, but also crashed during one of those sessions. However he said the mistakes he made today were different, and angered him more.

“When I look at Baku, honestly, yes it is a mistake the second lap, I knew that the tyres were overheated so it’s not the same. These mistakes this weekend I am much more angry with myself compared to Baku where I think I managed really well the weekend overall.

“Here, no laps in Q3 so again very angry with myself. I think it comes one side I am taking a lot of risks in Q3 to try something special because I know we are behind Red Bull at the moment. But also I think what is taking the upper hand this weekend is I have a very aggressive set-up.

“I know it, I hope it will pay off in the race for us but in qualifying it was too much.”

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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14 comments on ““Angry” Leclerc admits he took too much risk with “very aggressive set-up””

  1. At this point Leclerc-Hamilton swap seems to be more and more reasonable. Win-win. I have a feeling it still can save and maybe rebuild Charles career. He is stuck and probably has no future at Ferrari, more and more nervous driving to come.

    1. I don’t think there will be a swap.

      This is similar to the Michael – Kimi situation of 2005 / 2006. In that, Ferrari gently pushed Michael into retirement only after Kimi was fully signed.

      I think Mercedes will want Hamilton to drive for only 1 more year after which Leclerc will be brought in.

  2. How much more data do we need to prove that being angry at himself after yet another mistake isn’t sufficient for Charles to learn how to avoid them in the future?

    Getting angry is cheap. Learning, apparently, is hard, if not impossible.

  3. You prefer robot drivers that are sick if the rear end is a bit loose? Or this guy (and Max some times) deliberately taking out rear wing to gain something extra?
    I personally love what is Leclerc doing even though some times bins it. Ferrari has all the money in the world.
    At last now we will have 2 of the best drivers starting behind and this is good.

    1. I will never understand why anyone would love this barrage of driving mistakes that result in binning the car.

      There’s no apparent improvement here, no learning or adapting in evidence. This is just plain frustrating, even without going full Günther.

    2. Full send, that’s why McRae was so loved, Leclerc is the same, and He’ll get better at judging that line.

  4. People don’t seem to understand that without that risky and tricky to drive set-up Ferrari wouldn’t have been anywhere close to P1 at all. They are at best 3 and a half tenth to half a second of in qualifying pace with a conventional approach and Charles is delivering above and beyond. More often than not it pays of at times we get this spectacular upsets like today. The only thing Charles can learn is that there is no reason to push this hard against a clearly superior machine and all he can do is aim for 3rd then he will have decent races and hopefully sometime later be it Ferrari or any other team can supply him with a better car.

  5. Well basically he was running the car too low to cut over the kerb, and then he ran over the kerb, you could hear it touch.

  6. …because I know we are behind Red Bull at the moment.

    Everyone is behind Red Bull, who are currently in a different league, so the aim at present is not to try and be faster than Red Bull, but to be faster than everyone else except Red Bull. As it happens, Charles is starting ahead of Max, but he is behind an Alpine, Mercedes, Haas, and an Aston Martin, some of whom have less World Constructors’ Championship points than Ferrari.

  7. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    7th May 2023, 10:17

    I’ve been quite critical of Charles in the past. He’s made a lot of mistakes and they were rife in his Sauber time. But the truth is, I’m glad we have a driver who can be brilliant and frustrating at the same time. He drives on a knife edge and it can go one way or another. Fearlessly pushing beyond the limits in the pursuit of genius moments (of which there are plenty too). I don’t want a grid full of robots, almost like a hero of yesteryear. Besides he isn’t going to beat the Red Bull’s by being sensible and bringing it home 3rd/4th each week. I’m sure he would take one win over 5 3rd’s.

    1. Can’t win a race when you stuff your car in the barrier.

      Making mistakes because you cannot or do not want to recognize the limits of the car you’re driving may be entertaining occasionally, but Charles is doing this on the regular, and with no sign of improvement.

  8. I think this happens too often with Leclerc.

  9. While I agree with others who’ve noted that this happens too often, he’s in the worst possible spot for this sort of thing.

    Like with Vettel in 2017 and 2018, when the car is just not quite there you have two options: push it right to its limits and hope for the best, or settle for second. When people think about those years, I’m sure some of Vettel’s unfortunate mishaps come to mind. But the results? Ten wins for Vettel, compared to one for Räikkönen.

    As a fan and a viewer, I’ll take Leclerc and Vettel’s approach over Sainz’ and Räikkönen’s any day.

    If Ferrari build a better car, I’m sure Leclerc will settle down too.

    1. You’re not being fair to Kimi. He was “Number 2”, so every time Sebastian turned up behind him he had to let him pass. Frequently Kimi kept a car between them so Sebastian couldn’t catch up and then overtake.
      You might prefer Charles’s approach to Sergio’s, but Sergio has more points (34) than Charles (28), and Sergio has completed 4 races, three in the points (recalling there was a time penalty added at one race) compared to Charles 2 completed races (both in the points).

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