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

Formula 1

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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 PadrosDRS enabled.
Marcos PadrosRussell behind with DRS.
Marcos PadrosRussell DRS.
Lap: 3/57 LEC: 1’38.062
Marcos PadrosRussell DRS. Gap to him 0.8.
Marcos PadrosAnd Russell DRS again.
Marcos PadrosPerez behind with DRS.
Lap: 4/57 LEC: 1’37.752
Marcos PadrosPerez DRS
LeclercYeah, it’s okay.
Marcos PadrosCopy.
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.

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Lap: 5/57 LEC: 1’38.131
Marcos PadrosSo behind we have Perez with DRS and also Sainz with DRS behind Perez.
LeclercTrack limits, Russell.
Marcos PadrosCopy on track limits for Russell.
LeclercReally weird the balance, really oversteering.
Marcos PadrosUnderstood.
Lap: 6/57 LEC: 1’37.782
Marcos PadrosAnd switch position. Yellow.
LeclercTrack limits for Russell.
Lap: 7/57 LEC: 1’38.957
Marcos PadrosAnd first strike for track limits, turn ten. And SOC [state of charge] six when you can.
Lap: 8/57 LEC: 1’38.136
Marcos PadrosOverall, 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 PadrosAnd 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 PadrosAnd we have wind phase one, low intensity. And flap update when you can.
LeclercI’m okay.
Marcos PadrosAt the moment we have a single yellow turn four.
Lap: 11/57 LEC: 1’41.737
Marcos PadrosTrack is clear turn four
Marcos PadrosConfirm plan A. And box now box.
LeclercCopy, 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

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Lap: 12/57 LEC: 1’57.471
Marcos PadrosAnd no warm up on the hards.
LeclercCopy. Something felt very off on this set. The fronts were locking like crazy.
Marcos PadrosCopy, 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 PadrosSo Perez and Hamilton just pitted now for new hard.
Marcos PadrosAnd good job with the tyres, continue like this.
Marcos PadrosSo we have a temperature imbalance in higher front left.
LeclercIt’s an imbalance?
Lap: 14/57 LEC: 1’36.756
Marcos PadrosYes that’s correct. Higher front-left. And Norris behind just pitted for new hard.
Marcos PadrosAnd Sainz just pitted for new hard, he’s in the pits now.
Marcos PadrosClose pit exit to Sainz.
Lap: 15/57 LEC: 1’36.813
LeclercHow much is the imbalance?
Marcos PadrosAround 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.
LeclercGuys, it’s really going to the right when I’m braking.
Marcos PadrosOkay, we’re checking.
LeclercLike this I cannot fight. It’s becoming dangerous.
Lap: 18/57 LEC: 1’37.438
LeclercDo 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 PadrosAt 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

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Lap: 20/57 LEC: 1’36.794
Marcos PadrosAnd we need secondary KC position five, KC position five.
Lap: 21/57 LEC: 1’36.977
Marcos PadrosSo stable, if anything, slightly getting better. Russell 36.8. Norris 36.6.
Lap: 23/57 LEC: 1’36.987
Marcos PadrosAnd 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 PadrosAnd tyre phase updated when you can.

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

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

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

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Lap: 32/57 LEC: 1’36.941
Marcos PadrosAnd how many laps you can do at this pace. How many more laps?
Lap: 33/57 LEC: 1’36.741
Marcos PadrosAnd try less braking into 13 and carry more speed. That’s a suggestion. Turn 13.
LeclercI 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 PadrosOkay. Copy that.
Marcos PadrosAnd switch position black. And flap update when you can.
Marcos PadrosCopy and box now box.
Lap: 37/57 LEC: 1’34.897
Marcos PadrosAnd 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 PadrosAnd brake shape plus one, suggestion.
Lap: 39/57 LEC: 1’35.087
Marcos PadrosAnd less toggle for turn one, suggestion. Russell 35.5.
Marcos PadrosLess toggle turn one, suggestion.
Marcos PadrosAnd easy on traction out of turn four please.
Marcos PadrosAnd we need secondary KC position three. Secondary KC position three.
Lap: 40/57 LEC: 1’34.859
Marcos PadrosAs a reference Sainz lap time 34.7 his last time.
Marcos PadrosAnd brakes still stable overall. Good job managing it.
Lap: 43/57 LEC: 1’35.192
Marcos PadrosAnd 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.

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Lap: 45/57 LEC: 1’35.220
LeclercAh, it’s going to be difficult, the brakes are pulling too much.
Lap: 46/57 LEC: 1’35.058
Marcos PadrosGood job. Russell behind, DRS. And brake balance minus one for turn one, suggestion.
Lap: 48/57 LEC: 1’35.308
Marcos PadrosAnd 10 laps to go, 10 laps.
Lap: 49/57 LEC: 1’35.302
Marcos PadrosAnd 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 PadrosFor reference Sainz lap time 35.4.
Lap: 51/57 LEC: 1’35.418
Marcos PadrosAnd seven laps to go. And brake balance plus one only for turn four.
Lap: 56/57 LEC: 1’35.924
Marcos PadrosBrake situation still stable. Sainz lap time 35.4
LeclercIt feels shit, right.
Marcos PadrosYeah, still same issue.
Lap: 57/57 LEC: 1’36.324
Marcos PadrosAnd last lap.
Marcos PadrosAnd P4. Good job managing the issue. Mode slow. And charge button off, please.
LeclercSo what happened?
Marcos PadrosSo we could see the imbalance between front left and right, and then we could see the pulling under braking.
VasseurWe will explain later.

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2024 Bahrain 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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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.