Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Zandvoort, 2023

Car damage was much worse than team realised says Leclerc after retirement

2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc said he retired from the Dutch Grand Prix after his team discovered the damage he incurred on the first lap of the race was worse than they originally realised.

The Ferrari driver tangled with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri at the start. Leclerc said his team initially estimated he’d lost up to 10 points of downforce, but they later realised it was more severe.

“Already on the first lap when we had the damage, I could feel much more [deterioration] than the guys were telling me on the radio,” said Leclerc in response to a question from RaceFans.

“I think initially it was five to 10 points, what I’ve been told, but obviously then we realised that it was more than 60, and more than 60 is a different category. So after the first lap it was all uphill.”

Despite the early end to his race, Leclerc was pleased with how the team managed his strategy in the rain-affected race.

“It was very tricky because you’re always changing from wet to dry, dry to wet,” he said. “So it makes things very difficult.

“But on the other hand, it was the same for everybody. I think we actually managed today quite well the stops and the different strategies, but with 60 points less, there’s not much we could have done better.”

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As he sank towards the rear of the field in his damaged car, Leclerc admitted he was “just waiting for some rain” in the final laps. A heavy shower eventually hit the track after he retired.

“With some rain, obviously 60 [downforce] points less, it’s very tricky to drive a car with 60 points less in the rain, but it also adds a lot of chaos and you can do something different than others.

“Maybe [get] one or two [championship] points, every point counts. So we didn’t want to give up too early, then we understood that the rain wouldn’t come – even though now it’s come – but it would have been too late anyway.”

Leclerc lost some time when he pitted for intermediate tyres at the end of the first lap and Ferrari appeared not to be ready for him. However he said that was a result of him deciding very late to change tyres.

“I did call for it in the last corner, so very late. But obviously looking at the situation in the last corner, I was sure that even if we had lost five or six seconds at the pit stop, we will recover them during one lap easily.

“So I expected to lose some time. I think we could have optimised it as a team just for the guys to be ready a little bit earlier in those type of situations. But apart from that it was, I think, the right choice.”

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However he admitted it had been a tough weekend for the team as the car hadn’t handle well prior to the grand prix.

“In terms of results, obviously with a DNF like this, it’s not good,” he said. “It’s been extremely difficult.

“In terms of balance, it is probably the most difficult weekend of the season, and driveability of the car. So we need to look into it because the last two or three races were getting better on that side of things and for some reason it worsened quite a lot this weekend.”

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2023 Dutch 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...
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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7 comments on “Car damage was much worse than team realised says Leclerc after retirement”

  1. Let me get it straight, in 24 hours: Leclerc crashed in qualifying. Leclerc crashed into another car during the race. Leclerc drove through the gravel. And this is the guy who is supposedly on equal level to Max if he ever gets competitive car? Don’t make me laugh, hahaha.

  2. And do not forget the pitstop with the tyres not yet ready. If you do not botch it, Fezza botches it for you.

  3. pizza_pazzo2004
    27th August 2023, 16:59


  4. Found an old quote from Paddy Lowe back in 2011 who said ’30 points’ was about 10% of the total back then.

    In any case, another very rough weekend from Leclerc. It’s not getting any better. Sainz is now ahead in the standings, and it’s hard to argue it isn’t deserved. He may not have the same highs, but he’s avoiding the lows which is just as important in a midfield team because the differences in points between the positions is so small.

  5. Results are what matters in the end. LeCl has never been consistent enough to be seriously good or stand out as one of the great drivers. Sure the team makes plenty of mistakes and media pressure is high, but that’s what comes with the job.

  6. I honestly feel like I’m making excuses to justify Leclerc’s point total at the end of every season. He was significantly better than Sainz in 2021, yet finished a small handful of points behind him in the WDC (bad luck maybe?). In 2022, he absolutely smashed Sainz, but his points tally wouldn’t have shown such a level of dominance. This season, he’s been quicker again.. but just keeps shooting himself in the foot again and again. Pole positions don’t matter… but racing without incidents and finishing the race does matter.

    I think Leclerc’s learning curve stopped in 2020. I would still rate his 2019 and 2020 seasons higher than his last 3 seasons. He needs to leave Ferrari to become a better driver.

    1. Part of the issue is that he’s not under any pressure at Ferrari. They are never going to replace him are they. So he can make mistakes and there not really be any consequences.

      Compounding this is that Ferrari make so many mistakes as a team, that the blame is shared all round. I think Charles is pretty good but he does make too many errors. But then Ferrari don’t fully understand how their car works anyway it seems!

      It’s all round mess this year.

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