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Leclerc Puzzled Half Second Behind McLaren

Leclerc Puzzled: Half Second Behind McLaren

22/04/2024

Charles Leclerc found himself unexpectedly trailing McLaren by a significant margin at the Chinese Grand Prix, prompting concerns and anticipation for the upcoming updates at Imola.

Contrary to expectations, Ferrari was not the second strongest at the Chinese Grand Prix—it was McLaren F1.

Lando Norris even proved to have a significant lead over the two Ferraris. Charles Leclerc finished 10 seconds behind the leading McLaren F1 at Shanghai.

Both Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc expected the Scuderia to show better race pace in Shanghai—the Monegasque hoped to climb back onto the podium even starting from sixth.

“McLaren F1 was very, very strong,” laments Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc was equally surprised by the pace of McLaren F1, which he expected to struggle significantly in Shanghai, potentially being the fifth force.

“I believe Piastri had some damage to the floor, which obviously helped us. Lando was very, very strong. The two Red Bulls as well. So, we couldn’t really do any better.”

“It’s strange because we mainly struggled on the hard tires. On the mediums, I really thought we could put McLaren under pressure, especially Lando. As soon as we switched to the hard tires, they were half a second faster, which is crazy because that’s a huge difference and I still don’t quite understand why.”

Clearly, it was the hard tires that caused headaches for the Scuderia…

“I don’t think we’ve found the pace as a team, especially on the hards, which is a bit strange because the strength of this car since the start of the year is that it’s very solid in all conditions and with all the hard tires.”

“It’s strange. We’re going to look into it and try to understand what didn’t work on this stint with the hard tires.”

“Lando, at first, I really thought we were going to compete with him. I was managing my tires well until the safety car reset the situation somewhat, which is a bit unfortunate because I think we were doing a good job. Then, on the hard tires, we were just slow.”

“We expected this weekend to be very similar or consistent with what we’ve seen since the start of the season, but we struggled a lot more.”

Charles Leclerc at least appeared in better form in qualifying, better preparing his tires on a single lap than at Suzuka. Can he confirm his recovery in Miami?

“Yes, 100%.”

“There has been a lot of work on this aspect. It’s not yet at the level where I want to be, but I understand the direction and soon I will be back at the top.”

Charles Leclerc awaits the Imola updates

Ultimately, isn’t this weekend a stark disappointment for Maranello? Is there anything salvageable?

“No, not on a weekend like this. Finishing where we did is really not our goal.”

“But I think what will be a game changer is the [expected update at Imola]. So, we need to focus on that. As soon as we have these updates, it will indicate the direction for the rest of the season. So, we need to make sure everything goes smoothly.”

Leclerc Puzzled Half Second Behind McLaren

Leclerc Puzzled: Half Second Behind McLaren Leclerc Puzzled: Half Second Behind McLaren

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