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Leclerc Battles Qualifying Woes Amidst Stellar Pace

Leclerc Battles Qualifying Woes Amidst Stellar Pace

09/04/2024

Charles Leclerc, known for his qualifying prowess, faces unexpected challenges this season. Despite a strong race performance at Suzuka, his qualifying rounds lag, sparking a focused effort on improvement.

Charles Leclerc acknowledges he’s seen as a “very quick qualifier,” yet it’s this aspect of his performance he believes is lacking this year.

Leclerc was baffled at Suzuka on Saturday, securing only 8th on the grid, though Ferrari’s anticipated race pace allowed him to advance to 4th place, right behind teammate Carlos Sainz at the finish line.

While Leclerc hailed his single-stop strategy and pace at Suzuka as “incredible,” their effectiveness was curtailed by his qualifying struggles. He sees his preparation laps as the area needing improvement to address this shortfall.

“As a driver, you always need to step back and evaluate the weekend as a whole,” Leclerc explained post-Japan Grand Prix.

“One thing we could’ve done better is how we prepare the tires for the qualifying lap, because as I mentioned on Saturday, I was pleased with the lap, but I just didn’t have enough grip. And that mainly comes from the lap that gets the tires into the right temperature window.”

“From that point, it places us in a very challenging position for the rest of the weekend, because starting from 8th, there’s not much more you can do.”

“We executed an incredible strategy, tire management, and pace, but it’s simply not enough when you start from 8th.”

“It’s not often in my career that I’ve had to focus on qualifying pace since it’s usually one of my strengths, but in Australia and Japan, that’s where I struggled, so I’ll be concentrating on that. Normally, when I work on something, I improve quite quickly, so I’m confident I’ll get there.”

“I’ve always been described as a very quick qualifier, not so much in races. But I think this year I’m not doing something drastically different, it’s just that we have a car that performs much better in races, being much gentler on its tires.”

“We’ve worked on this and believe we’ve understood the direction we need to take with the car to make life easier during races. So this year, we’re seeing progress.”

“However, this shouldn’t compromise our qualifying performance, so I don’t think it’s related to my difficulties in the last two qualifiers. I think it’s more about me and how we increase the tire temperature during the final lap, and I’ll think about it and try to figure out what I can do better.”

Leclerc is the Ferrari driver with his seat secured for next season, but Sainz seems to have outshone him a bit at the start of the year. For that, Leclerc commends his teammate while reiterating that he can quickly address his weaknesses.

“Carlos has always been strong. I think one race he was a bit stronger, another race I was a bit stronger. He did two races, he was a bit stronger. And congratulations to him, he’s done an excellent job.”

“And as I said, I know very clearly what I need to work on. It’s mainly the qualifications. Then, in the race, Australia is very hard to compare directly because we had different strategies, in Japan as well, but I have no doubt that in the race, the pace is there.”

“It’s just that in qualifications, I need to get everything right. Again, I’m aware of this, I’ll work on it, and when I work on something, I improve quite quickly.”

Leclerc Battles Qualifying Woes Amidst Stellar Pace

Leclerc Battles Qualifying Woes Amidst Stellar Pace. Leclerc Battles Qualifying Woes Amidst Stellar Pace

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