Charles Leclerc’s damning comments on Ferrari’s woes

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has struggled this season with inconsistent car performance and tyre degradation.

Charles Leclerc has admitted that the current Formula 1 season has been more challenging than he had anticipated. 

Last year’s Spanish Grand Prix marked the turning point in Leclerc’s time with Ferrari, and since then, his performance has faltered. 

Despite a promising start to the 2023 season, Leclerc has only managed to secure one victory.

The season reached a low point for Leclerc and Ferrari during the recent Spanish Grand Prix, where technical issues forced him to start from the pit lane. 

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The qualifying session was marred by a “strange” car that refused to turn left, resulting in a difficult race weekend. 

Leclerc finished 11th, elevated to seventh place in the drivers’ standings but still a considerable 128 points behind Max Verstappen.

Expressing his frustration, Leclerc admitted: “We are struggling more than I expected.” 

He faced unusual tire issues during the race, causing his SF-23 to suffer from excessive understeer. 

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Leclerc highlighted the challenge of dealing with an inconsistent car that responds differently on the same tire compound. 

These inconsistencies make it difficult for him and the team to determine the appropriate setup and address the issues effectively.

“It’s not like I’ve got understeer in the car, and I can say, ‘Okay, this is a very understeery car’,” Leclerc said. 

He emphasised that the balance of the car varies even on the same tire compound, leading to either understeer or oversteer. 

Despite executing the same driving techniques, the car’s behaviour remains inconsistent, posing a significant challenge for both the driver and the team.

“It’s just inconsistencies but it’s very difficult to work on inconsistencies, especially when you do exactly the same thing both times,” he explained.

“We’ll check what we are doing but it’s very, very difficult because even as soon as the wind changes slightly we’ve a car that changes quite a lot, so it’s very, very tricky.”

To overcome these difficulties, Leclerc believes Ferrari needs to focus on optimising their tire management and finding ways to consistently operate within the ideal tire window. 

He emphasised the impact that small adjustments can have on the car’s balance, mentioning the need to understand the tire behaviour better. 

Leclerc acknowledged the importance of putting the tires in the right operating range consistently to achieve optimal performance.

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“Where we really need to put all our focus is to try and be more often at the peak of our tyres and know how to manage them better,” he said.

“Two or three degrees makes a huge difference on balance. In Spain, we were struggling, either completely outside the window, or in the window and being happy with the car, so there’ll be a lot of work on that.

“We need to try to understand what’s going on with those tyres and put them in the right window more often.”