Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2023

Ferrari’s strategic gamble on a Safety Car didn’t pay off, admits Leclerc

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suffered misfortune during the Monaco Grand Prix, but said everything had already gone wrong before the race start.

Leclerc qualified third, 0.106 seconds off pole, but started from sixth after receiving a three-place grid penalty for impeding McLaren’s Lando Norris.

“After the penalty yesterday, that’s where everything went wrong basically,” Leclerc told media including RaceFans post-race.

He finished where he started following a race of frustrations. Both Leclerc and team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr started on Pirelli’s hard compound tyre but made pit stops before the show which arrived after lap 50.

Sainz pitted 11 laps before his team mate. The only two other cars in the top ten to pit before the Ferraris did so because they started on the medium compound, then later in the race almost every driver switched to intermediates due to the increasingly volume of water on the track.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Monaco, 2023
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Leclerc said the Ferraris pitted early as the hard tyre expired earlier than they expected it would. “We had a cliff at the end of the hard tyres, which puts us a little bit in a bad situation,” he said. “A cliff that we didn’t see coming, to be honest, before. So we’ve got some work to do on that, we know.”

Running in close company with other cars likely exacerbated the problem. “Our car is very difficult to drive in traffic, to save the tyres even more.

“At first we were quite good at one point on the slicks, but then with the hards at the end we had a little bit more degradation. We went for the other set of tyres, which was okay. But again, no room to overtake.”

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Gallery: 2023 Monaco Grand Prix in pictures
As the rain intensified the Ferrari drivers stayed out longer on slick tyres than their rivals, hoping to benefit from a Safety Car appearance, but it never materialised.

“We went quite far with those slicks before stopping for the inters, it was a choice that we wanted as a team, as in those conditions it’s very likely to have a Safety Car at one point. It did not happen, it didn’t pay off. It’s like this.”

Sainz, who also lost time with a spin at Mirabeau, questioned Ferrari’s strategic calls as he ended up finishing eighth after starting fourth. Although he finished ahead, Leclerc thought the strategy did not favour him more.

“I think it was hard for both of us. With the benefit of hindsight, you always do something different. Especially on a track like this where it’s very easy to criticise the strategy after the race, I think, because if you stop early and there’s a Safety Car, most of the time this is what happens,” Leclerc explained.

“Then you’re like ‘why did we stop so early, we knew that this was tricky’. Today we waited for a Safety Car, and surprisingly nobody did a mistake and there was no Safety Car. So it’s like this. Yes, with the benefit of hindsight, I would have changed things, but we don’t know when we are in the car at that time. And I think today was the right choice.”

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While he said it was “very special” to be surrounded by his home fans during the weekend, Leclerc could not hide his disappointment at failing to reach the podium. In five years he has claimed two pole positions in Monaco but his best race result is fourth.

“Of course it’s frustrating. I think any weekend like this one, anywhere it’s frustrating, at home it’s even more frustrating. But on the other hand, that’s where we need to keep our head up.

“The season is long. It’s not the only race on the calendar, even though it probably means a bit more than the others, the points are the same. So we need to restart again in Barcelona, hopefully having a great weekend that time.”

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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3 comments on “Ferrari’s strategic gamble on a Safety Car didn’t pay off, admits Leclerc”

  1. It’s all getting a bit too much.
    I fear for @tifoso1989 wellbeing.
    Hope you are ok.
    Some good news for Ferrari and F1 generally soon I hope.

  2. @davedai
    Thank you very much for your concern. One of the best comments I’ve ever read in this forum !

    I cannot claim to be completely immune to the current situation within Ferrari. In any sport, winning and losing are inevitable, and I have learned to accept defeat gracefully over the years. However, the current state of affairs at Ferrari is far from acceptable, even at amateur levels.

    As a passionate individual, it greatly affects me, particularly considering that my doctor has advised me to better manage my temper and avoid anger considering me health issues. Nevertheless, I believe this is what adds depth and richness to life. If everything were purely joyful, it would be exceedingly dull. It is those fleeting moments of joy that truly make life beautiful.

  3. Great to hear and we’ll said.
    Everything at your own pace.✌️☮️

Comments are closed.