Ferrari’s result ‘much worse than it felt’ says Leclerc after litany of problems

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc said Ferrari’s result in the Hungarian Grand Prix looked worse than it was after enduring a litany of problems during the race.

He finished seventh after a penalty for breaking the pit lane speed limit dropped him behind George Russell. He also lost ground earlier in the race when a crew member had to swap wheel guns when he came in to change tyres.

“The pit stop was quite slow and we had a five seconds penalty for speeding in the pit lane,” said Leclerc. “So it’s again a weekend that is difficult.

“Honestly it’s frustrating overall because I felt that with the pace we have today, even as a driver, when you are feeling like you are doing a good job with a car you have, nobody really notices it. And whenever you are doing a bad job, everybody notices it. So it is difficult, but at the end it’s part of the game.”

Leclerc said the team need to “do a step forward, as McLaren did” with their car. “Now we are on the back foot and it’s been confirmed since the last three weekends, so there’s a lot of work to do again.”

Having finished second two races ago in Austria, Leclerc has taken ninth and seventh in the following rounds. “Honestly, today I feel like the result is much worse than what it felt like,” he said.

“The first stint felt pretty good, then with the slow stop it really put us on the back foot being behind Lance [Stroll]. I had to push a lot, then we were with Carlos [Sainz Jnr] and we lost a bit of time there.

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“Then in the third stint I pushed again and there again the car felt quite okay. So I feel like the result looks worse than what it actually is, but it’s clear that compared to Lando [Norris] especially we are still behind.”

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Hungaroring, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix in pictures
The Ferrari driver endured other problems during the race. Before the start he discovered his drink tube was too short to reach his mouth.

“I had no water,” he said. “Just before the start I realised that the tube was too short so I couldn’t reach the water. So it was really frustrating.”

He also had more difficulty communicating with his race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros at times. In one radio message broadcast on the world feed during the race he told his team their strategy “doesn’t make sense” and was confused to be told “we are discussing and we will do it at the end” in response.

“We have also a lot of problems with the radio,” Leclerc explained. “”One out of four words is not understood by an engineer because there’s just problems with our radio [for] three or four races. So we need to fix that.

“Obviously my tone of voice is quite high because I need to make myself heard. But I just wanted to make sure that they understand me wrong and that I wanted to go aggressive early and not aggressive late. So it was just about clarifying because of our radio issues.”

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2023 Hungarian 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...

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9 comments on “Ferrari’s result ‘much worse than it felt’ says Leclerc after litany of problems”

  1. I wasn’t a fan of Binotto but Ferrari is worse in every facet of racing. The strategists think it was fine to not have a strategy until the end? What was going on? The strategy may change at any point in a race, but at any point of a race, they need to know the optimal strategy. How much is there to it?
    SC happens now, we do X unless the closest competitors to us do Y.
    VSC happens now…
    Closest competitor pits…
    Doesn’t pit…

    1. What was going on?

      Xavi talks to Leclerc like the latter has no clue about the race and needs to be educated about how it all fits into the grand plan that Ferrari has come up with, without actually telling him the plan. Because, presumably, they’re worried Red Bull is listening in and will discover the plan. Or whatever.

      This is the same silliness that led to Vettel becoming a meme for attempting to override the strategy from inside the car every other race. They just don’t learn.

  2. Too short tube? What a silly & easily avoidable error.

  3. Sure, Leclerc lost some time being stuck behind Sainz. But then Sainz probably lost more by being stuck behind Leclerc earlier on in the race on his softs – had they switched those cars early on, Sainz might have been able to push for Hamilton early on and Leclerc would have been able to drive in clear air afterwards with Sainz being on a different strategy, wouldn’t have had to push himself to stay ahead.

    That is an issue Ferrari has had for some time, where they cannot trust the team to make good decisions and make them in a timely manner, part of their bad strategy calls.

    1. It’s inexcusable, and it looks bad on Vasseur for doing nothing about it. The Xavi-Leclerc relationship is obviously not working as it should. And teams racing with amateur drivers in the ELMS can swap the cars when one is faster than the other, but Ferrari and its race engineers are still trying to work this out.

      I am reluctant to praise Domenicali because of the many issues with his leadership, but back then they actually had the wherewithal to get Massa out of the picture ASAP whenever he was a hindrance to Alonso.

    2. Really? Sainz was slower than Leclerc this weekend. Even with a harder tyre Leclerc pulled away from Sainz and was closer to Hamilton than Sainz was to Leclerc. The goal with Sainz was to get a good start and make the tyres last, which he did.

  4. Yup. seems like keeping the guy with a faster strategy stuck behind the guy with a slower strategy makes a lot of sense for Fezza strategists

  5. Leclerc said the team need to “do a step forward, as McLaren did” with their car.

    I don’t see why Ferrari should bother trying to do a step forward. They’d much rather keep to their team plan, which presumably is to maximise Charles points at the expense of they could get as a team. In today’s race the driver on the soft tyres, Carlos, was stuck behind the car on the medium tyres, driven by Charles. Logic is the car on the soft tyres should be allowed to overtake the one on medium tyres so that driver can make best use of those soft tyres while they still have life in them. However, Ferrari have decided their Number One driver is Charles, who now has 80 points, and their Number Two driver is Carlos, who now has 87 points, and they kept Carlos behind Charles. So Ferrari’s strategy is to avoid taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves in a race. Charles got a 5 second time penalty because of his own impatience. A fraction more patience and he wouldn’t have gotten that penalty. Ferrari also prioritised their lowest points earning driver over their highest points earning driver. When you have poor strategy combined with impetuous driving and wrong prioritisation of drivers then a “step forward” is a waste of resources. Conversely, if they used a wise strategy, told Charles to slow down before the pit lane speed limit sign, and prioritised their highest points earning driver ahead of their lowest then that alone would amount to step forward.

  6. I agree with the people saying that Sainz should have been allowed past Leclerc in the first stint and open themselves up for more opportunities in the race, but I find it hard to feel sorry for Carlos this race; he was clearly slower than Leclerc for the most part.

    It’s the second or third time this season he is really pushing behind Leclerc and seeming to be faster in the early stages of the first stint while not being able to keep up the same pace later on. Not sure how much of it his him pushing hard early while Leclerc is more focused on tyre management perhaps. He was able to stay on Leclerc’s pace in Austria, but he didn’t really have a good time here…Leclerc lost 12 seconds to a slow pitstop and a penalty, and still finished ahead of Sainz.

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