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Leclerc left frustrated after worst qualifying performance of 2023 season



Leclerc left frustrated after worst qualifying performance of 2023 season

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc expressed disappointment with his qualifying performance for the Australian Grand Prix2023 season, citing poor driving and mismanagement of Q3 that led to his teammate Carlos Sainz outpacing him for the first time this season.

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari expressed his discontent with his qualifying performance for the Australian Grand Prix, stating that he cannot recall feeling so unhappy with his own showing.

He was only able to secure the seventh spot on the grid and was outpaced by his teammate, Carlos Sainz, by one-tenth of a second during the Q3 session, marking the first time this season that Leclerc was the slower of the two Ferrari drivers.

Leclerc attributed his and Ferrari’s poor qualifying performance for the Australian Grand Prix to a combination of factors, including his own subpar driving and a mismanagement of Q3 that resulted in his teammate, Carlos Sainz, being ahead of him on a preparation lap.

Leclerc acknowledged that he did not perform well in Q1 and Q2, as he was unable to put everything together. However, he felt better in the car during Q3 and was confident that he could do better. Unfortunately, during the second run of Q3, he found himself trailing Sainz in the first sector, which he believed was due to miscommunication or other factors. He intends to discuss the matter with the team during the debrief and work on improving such situations in the future.

Leclerc qualifying 2023 season

During Leclerc’s first run in Q3, he had a straightforward and unremarkable performance, apart from a slight loss of control in the second-to-last corner.

He managed to secure the sixth spot on the grid, trailing Sainz by 0.127 seconds. However, the team then warned him that rain was expected, and they considered abandoning the preparation lap, which set the stage for his disappointing second run.


Leclerc had initially foregone a preparation lap during his first run in Q1, but later changed his strategy to include an outlap-prep-push approach. However, when he returned to the pits, he agreed that they could abandon the prep lap if the incoming rain made it necessary.

Meanwhile, Sainz chose to stick to the standard outlap-prep-push routine and was leading the way in front of Leclerc. At the eleventh hour, the team radioed Sainz to offer a tow to Leclerc “if it made sense,” but Sainz declined, citing the tricky nature of the situation.

Despite receiving minimal tow benefit, Leclerc began his lap, but Sainz was informed at Turn 3 that Leclerc was three seconds behind him. Sainz then yielded to Leclerc by backing off after Turn 4 and staying on the right.

Leclerc qualifying 2023 season

Leclerc completed his lap, but he was not as confident as usual in his steering inputs, particularly in the first sector. He experienced a moment in the last corner that cost him enough time to lose to Sainz. After the lap, Leclerc complained over the radio, saying, “I had no temperature in the tires, and the rain is not there.”

Upon arriving in parc ferme, Leclerc thanked Sainz for the tow in Turn 3-4 and remarked that it was nice to get a little extra speed, but his comments may have been poorly expressed or a veiled complaint. Having a car in front of you in Turns 3 and 4 is far from helpful, and Leclerc’s post-session comments seem to support that interpretation.

However, it appears that Sainz was not intentionally causing problems for Leclerc, and the issue was a result of Ferrari’s poor management of the final run. The team failed to consider the strategic divergence and the relative positioning of the two cars, leading to Leclerc being behind Sainz on track.

Leclerc acknowledged that he did not perform well in Q3 and that he was partially to blame for not being able to put everything together in his previous laps. He also admitted that better communication could have helped optimize their performance.


Despite the issues in the final run, Leclerc showed some promise earlier in qualifying and appeared to be on track to outpace Sainz. However, he was unable to perform at his best during Q3.

Leclerc was on his way out of Turn 5 when the red flag was waved in Q1, preventing him from setting a time. Although there was a stoppage, he was denied a request to take a toilet break because Sergio Perez’s Red Bull was easy to recover.

When the session resumed, Leclerc switched to a prep lap, which allowed him to have three fliers on his final Q1 run. He ended up lapping 0.468 seconds slower than Sainz and briefly held the eighth spot before being pushed down to 13th.

While the team noted that Leclerc’s main time loss occurred in the first corner, the Turn 11 right-hander, and the last corner during Q1, he was able to match Sainz’s time almost exactly in the middle sector.

On his second lap in Q1, Leclerc managed to improve his time by six-tenths and narrowed the gap to Sainz to two-tenths. However, the team requested a “better brake release” into the first corner, where Leclerc lost one-and-a-half tenths to Sainz.

During his final push lap, Leclerc experienced a snap at the first corner, potentially due to his attempt to improve there. He also had a wide moment at Turn 11, which led him to abort the lap. Fortunately, his previous lap was enough to secure the 11th spot on the grid, but his lap time was only 0.299 seconds quicker than Oscar Piastri in 16th place.

This performance was closer to elimination than what is expected of a Ferrari in Q1.


Given permission to go to the toilet during the break between segments, Leclerc was the second driver out in Q2. He opted to include a prep lap and used a fresh set of softs. Although the team gave him feedback about the need to brake later into Turn 11, his first lap was still sufficient to secure a spot in Q3.

Leclerc was forced to abort his second lap due to a yellow flag, but he lost a small amount of time in Turns 1-2 before doing so.

After visiting the weighbridge, Leclerc expressed that he would have preferred to stay out for another lap. However, the team informed him that it was not possible because of the limited time remaining. Despite including a prep lap, Ferrari still believed that Leclerc was at risk of elimination, so he had to make the most of his final push lap.

Leclerc managed to put in a decent lap, finishing in fourth place, just 0.041 seconds behind Sainz. The main differences between their laps were Leclerc’s lower minimum speed in Turn 1, a small loss in Turn 11, and his exit from the final corner.

Leclerc suggested to the team to prioritize handling traffic in the last sector after Q2. Ironically, in the final run, his main traffic issue was his own teammate, and the expected rain did not come to fruition despite prior warning.

When asked by F1Lead about when he last felt this disappointed after qualifying, Leclerc admitted that he could not remember. He acknowledged that qualifying usually goes well for him, but the first sector of his second lap in Q3 was not in ideal conditions. Despite this, he did not believe that he did a bad job overall on that lap.

Leclerc left frustrated after worst qualifying performance of F1 2023 season Leclerc left frustrated after worst qualifying performance of F1 2023 season Leclerc left frustrated after worst qualifying performance of F1 2023 season Leclerc left frustrated after worst qualifying performance of F1 2023 season Leclerc left frustrated after worst qualifying performance of F1 2023 season