Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2024

Ferrari have “got to look into” mystery loss of pace in qualifying – Leclerc

Formula 1

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Charles Leclerc was baffled by his poor performance in qualifying after taking eighth on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

The Ferrari driver consumed his fresh soft tyres so quickly he only had one set left for Q3, and did his sole run while the track was quiet. Several drivers struggled to improve on their times at the end of Q3, but Leclerc believes his problems were particular to Ferrari.

“I think from Q1 to Q2 it hasn’t been a strong session,” he told Sky. “Already the first lap in Q1, I was [thinking] okay, the feeling is quite okay. Normally when it is the case, the time comes with it. Today it has been completely the opposite. So we’ve got to look into it.”

Leclerc suspects the problem lies in getting the best out of the tyres. “It’s one of those sessions maybe you get it once in a season,” he said. “It’s definitely not a good feeling.

“Everything feels okay, the balance is not way off – we can always improve, but in a bit, like every qualifying. If I rely on the feeling at the end of the lap, I’m like, okay, this is quite a good lap and this is a good lap. Then you look at the board and you are a second off.

“When this happens, normally we look more at tyres and the way you bring the tyres to temperature. I’ve tried many different things today and it didn’t work, any of the things I’ve tried. So for now I don’t have the answer.”

He expects the team will be more competitive over the race distance tomorrow. “The positive thing, if we have to find one, is that our race pace looks a bit stronger,” he said. “But on a track like this qualifying position is extremely important and today we didn’t do a good job.”

“I just hope we have the opportunity to overtake because on a track like this it’s going to be very difficult to overtake,” he added.

However his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr was more content after claiming fourth on the grid.

“After FP3 we thought we didn’t have the pace as FP1 and we thought it was going to be a tougher weekend,” he said. “And we actually made a good step in quali.

“It’s just Lando [Norris] two-tenths in front for P3 was too much around this track. Here the gaps are very, very tight and two tenths was too much. But I did some very good laps in this quali, I’m happy with my performance. It’s just a track where the Ferrari is not the fastest car around and we know why.”

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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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4 comments on “Ferrari have “got to look into” mystery loss of pace in qualifying – Leclerc”

  1. Sainz is better with a heavier car. The car is no longer optimized for an empty tank. Connect the dots.

    1. An Sionnach
      6th April 2024, 10:15

      Sainz is looking good. He seems to be able to adapt, which isn’t a skill many in the current grid have displayed. Not enough data to say he’s a Lauda or a Prost, but then you don’t have to be that good to get a result on a grid with so many inconsistent performers.

      Surely Leclerc can do better than this? If the poor form continues, Lewis definitely has to beat him next year… and I expect he will.

  2. Ferrari really did a Ferrari in exchanging Sainz for Hamilton

    1. And now the merc is improving. Lewis has done a Ferrari too could be…

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