“I don’t know what the car’s going to do every time I brake”: Leclerc’s race radio

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Persistent braking problems ended Charles Leclerc’s hopes of finishing on the podium in the first race of 2023.

The Ferrari driver started second but slipped back to fifth at one stage as he grappled with a 100C different in temperature between his front brake discs.

Team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr briefly reported similar problems during his first stint, but wasn’t affected by them as seriously as Leclerc was.

By the end of the race, Leclerc had adjusted to the problem well enough that he was able to pass George Russell for fourth place. The Mercedes driver had problems of his own due to his power unit overheating.

But at one point Leclerc’s problems grew so severe he warned his team the car’s handling was “dangerous”.

Leclerc’s 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix radio messages

The Ferrari driver was already having difficulty with his brakes when Russell overtook him soon after the start of Saturday’s race. This is a selection of his exchanges with race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros, omitting repetitive messages such as gaps to other drivers and their lap times:

Lap: 2/57 LEC: 1’36.862
Marcos Padros DRS enabled.
Marcos Padros Russell behind with DRS.
Marcos Padros Russell DRS.
Lap: 3/57 LEC: 1’38.062
Marcos Padros Russell DRS. Gap to him 0.8.
Marcos Padros And Russell DRS again.
Marcos Padros Perez behind with DRS.
Lap: 4/57 LEC: 1’37.752
Marcos Padros Perez DRS
Leclerc Yeah, it’s okay.
Marcos Padros Copy.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024
Russell swept past Leclerc on lap three

Leclerc made few comments about his braking problem during the first stint. It appears he suspected the problem lay with his tyres. On lap seven he locked up at turn 10, ran wide and Perez pounced, taking third place from him.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Lap: 5/57 LEC: 1’38.131
Marcos Padros So behind we have Perez with DRS and also Sainz with DRS behind Perez.
Leclerc Track limits, Russell.
Marcos Padros Copy on track limits for Russell.
Leclerc Really weird the balance, really oversteering.
Marcos Padros Understood.
Lap: 6/57 LEC: 1’37.782
Marcos Padros And switch position. Yellow.
Leclerc Track limits for Russell.
Lap: 7/57 LEC: 1’38.957
Marcos Padros And first strike for track limits, turn ten. And SOC [state of charge] six when you can.
Lap: 8/57 LEC: 1’38.136
Marcos Padros Overall, good job on tyre management.

Having put Leclerc on soft tyres at the start, Ferrari planned to switch him on to the hard tyres early on. Despite Sainz passing him on lap 11, Ferrari stuck to their plan to pit Leclerc first.

Lap: 9/57 LEC: 1’37.844
Marcos Padros And Charles at the moment we are thinking plan A, plan A. And tyre phase update when you can.
Lap: 10/57 LEC: 1’37.884
Marcos Padros And we have wind phase one, low intensity. And flap update when you can.
Leclerc I’m okay.
Marcos Padros At the moment we have a single yellow turn four.
Lap: 11/57 LEC: 1’41.737
Marcos Padros Track is clear turn four
Leclerc Copy.
Marcos Padros Confirm plan A. And box now box.
Leclerc Copy, box.

As he came in Leclerc told his team he felt the problem lay with his tyres.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024
Leclerc realised his tyres weren’t the problem when he switched from softs to hards

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Lap: 12/57 LEC: 1’57.471
Marcos Padros And no warm up on the hards.
Leclerc Copy. Something felt very off on this set. The fronts were locking like crazy.
Marcos Padros Copy, understood.

But once out on track with a new set of hard rubber, Leclerc realised the problem lay elsewhere. At this point the team spotted one brake was significantly hotter than the other – a different of 100C.

Lap: 13/57 LEC: 1’36.432
Marcos Padros So Perez and Hamilton just pitted now for new hard.
Marcos Padros And good job with the tyres, continue like this.
Marcos Padros So we have a temperature imbalance in higher front left.
Leclerc It’s an imbalance?
Lap: 14/57 LEC: 1’36.756
Marcos Padros Yes that’s correct. Higher front-left. And Norris behind just pitted for new hard.
Marcos Padros And Sainz just pitted for new hard, he’s in the pits now.
Marcos Padros Close pit exit to Sainz.
Lap: 15/57 LEC: 1’36.813
Leclerc How much is the imbalance?
Marcos Padros Around 100 degrees. And you are doing a good job on tyres.

By lap 17 Sainz had passed him again and Leclerc was down in fifth. While the other Ferrari got stuck into Russell and took third, Leclerc was increasingly worried about his brakes.

Lap: 17/57 LEC: 1’37.302
Marcos Padros ‘Russell’s doing quite a lot of lift-off for engine temps.
Leclerc Guys, it’s really going to the right when I’m braking.
Marcos Padros Okay, we’re checking.
Leclerc Like this I cannot fight. It’s becoming dangerous.
Lap: 18/57 LEC: 1’37.438
Leclerc Do I need to do some brake management to finish the race or am I okay continuing like this and I just have to manage the front locks?
Marcos Padros At the moment continue like this. Manage front locking. And we can see the imbalance and the pulling and the braking, confirm we can see it on data.

Marcos Padros suggested settings changes to address the problem.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024
Throughout the race Leclerc warned his team how bad his tyres felt

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Lap: 20/57 LEC: 1’36.794
Marcos Padros And we need secondary KC position five, KC position five.
Lap: 21/57 LEC: 1’36.977
Marcos Padros So stable, if anything, slightly getting better. Russell 36.8. Norris 36.6.
Lap: 23/57 LEC: 1’36.987
Marcos Padros And you are doing a good job on tyres and also managing the brakes. Good job. Russell 37.0. Norris Behind 36 seven.
Lap: 26/57 LEC: 1’36.810
Marcos Padros And tyre phase updated when you can.

Leclerc, clearly concerned, kept pushing Marcos Padros for more feedback.

Lap: 27/57 LEC: 1’36.831
Leclerc Update me on the brakes please.
Marcos Padros So the situation is the same as before. I know you are doing a good job managing the issue.
Marcos Padros Information: Tyre life is longer than expected.
Lap: 29/57 LEC: 1’36.963
Marcos Padros Update on the brakes, everything stable at the moment.
Lap: 30/57 LEC: 1’37.158
Marcos Padros And brake balance minus one, suggestion.
Leclerc Ah, it’s all over the place.
Marcos Padros Yeah Charles we can see it. So overall you are doing a good job managing the issue. And flap update when you can.
Leclerc Okay.
Marcos Padros Copy. And brake temperature and balance at the front is getting better.
Lap: 31/57 LEC: 1’37.031
Leclerc Well it still feels shit.
Marcos Padros Okay, copy.

While Ferrari’s data indicated the brakes were improving, the feeling Leclerc had in the car remained poor.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Lap: 32/57 LEC: 1’36.941
Marcos Padros And how many laps you can do at this pace. How many more laps?
Leclerc Five.
Lap: 33/57 LEC: 1’36.741
Marcos Padros And try less braking into 13 and carry more speed. That’s a suggestion. Turn 13.
Leclerc I think we can forget about driving now. It’s fucking pulling everywhere. I don’t know what the car’s going to do every time I brake.
Lap: 34/57 LEC: 1’39.614
Marcos Padros Okay. Copy that.
Marcos Padros And switch position black. And flap update when you can.
Leclerc Okay.
Marcos Padros Copy and box now box.
Leclerc Box.
Lap: 37/57 LEC: 1’34.897
Marcos Padros And brake situation is still stable.

The team continued making tweaks to his car’s setting in an effort to improve Leclerc’s handling.

Lap: 38/57 LEC: 1’34.783
Marcos Padros And brake shape plus one, suggestion.
Lap: 39/57 LEC: 1’35.087
Marcos Padros And less toggle for turn one, suggestion. Russell 35.5.
Leclerc What?
Marcos Padros Less toggle turn one, suggestion.
Marcos Padros And easy on traction out of turn four please.
Marcos Padros And we need secondary KC position three. Secondary KC position three.
Lap: 40/57 LEC: 1’34.859
Marcos Padros As a reference Sainz lap time 34.7 his last time.
Marcos Padros And brakes still stable overall. Good job managing it.
Lap: 43/57 LEC: 1’35.192
Marcos Padros And 15 laps to go, one-five. And SOC 6 available.

Russell’s increasingly dire power unit problems dropped him into Leclerc’s clutches. But as the Mercedes grew larger ahead of him Leclerc was concerned overtaking him might prove difficult given his braking problem.

He received a gift on lap 46, however, when Russell skidded wide at turn 10, opening the door for Leclerc to regain fourth place.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Lap: 45/57 LEC: 1’35.220
Leclerc Ah, it’s going to be difficult, the brakes are pulling too much.
Lap: 46/57 LEC: 1’35.058
Marcos Padros Good job. Russell behind, DRS. And brake balance minus one for turn one, suggestion.
Lap: 48/57 LEC: 1’35.308
Marcos Padros And 10 laps to go, 10 laps.
Lap: 49/57 LEC: 1’35.302
Marcos Padros And brake balance minus one, suggestion.

Leclerc was able to manage the problem the rest of the way home. After he took the chequered flag, Marcos Padros began to explain the nature of the problem to him, but team principal Frederic Vasseur didn’t want any more details being overheard by their rivals.

Lap: 50/57 LEC: 1’35.383
Marcos Padros For reference Sainz lap time 35.4.
Lap: 51/57 LEC: 1’35.418
Marcos Padros And seven laps to go. And brake balance plus one only for turn four.
Lap: 56/57 LEC: 1’35.924
Marcos Padros Brake situation still stable. Sainz lap time 35.4
Leclerc It feels shit, right.
Marcos Padros Yeah, still same issue.
Lap: 57/57 LEC: 1’36.324
Marcos Padros And last lap.
Marcos Padros And P4. Good job managing the issue. Mode slow. And charge button off, please.
Leclerc So what happened?
Marcos Padros So we could see the imbalance between front left and right, and then we could see the pulling under braking.
Vasseur We will explain later.

Become a RaceFans Supporter

RaceFans is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating, hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.

Become a RaceFans Supporter today and browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

Browse all 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

7 comments on ““I don’t know what the car’s going to do every time I brake”: Leclerc’s race radio”

  1. wish we could see tyre and brake temperatures. Why not? They’d add interest, how badly do we need that! And we’re about to pay £20 for live freaking timing after all.

    1. wish we could see tyre and brake temperatures. Why not?

      I imagine tyre and brake temps is something that isn’t shared between teams. At least I’d be very surprised if they were.

  2. Brilliant drive by Charles! So much unluck this kid has, but he always make a difference!

    It was so strange that the best braker in the grid having so much problem, but lap to lap he managed it better and better!

    1. The situation stabilized so he could factor the imbalance in his braking.

    2. Sainz also had the same issue, a situation they could not see due to the lack of long test runs.

  3. I get a bit unnerved evertime this guy starts his messages with “And”, especially when they are not the follow up of a previous message

    1. If it helps, just think of it as Massa’s “for sure.”

Comments are closed.