Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc may have “lost his way” at the struggling Italian team, according to Dutch racing driver Tom Coronel.
Despite bringing an upgraded car to the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, Leclerc’s weekend was plagued by poor performance, failing to progress beyond Q1 in qualifying and finishing outside the points in the race.
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz also struggled in the race, slipping from his qualifying position of second to fifth place at the chequered flag.
Sainz attributed his difficulties to tire degradation and expressed frustration with the team’s lack of progress, comparing their performance to Aston Martin and Mercedes who remained far behind Red Bull.
“I did a very careful first stint but after 12-13 laps I had no tyres,” Sainz said.
“Then with the medium and hard I had to go very slowly to be in the target laps we had. If we push, we go even slower. This is our biggest weakness.
“Here, Mercedes has gone where Aston Martin was – 30-40 seconds behind Red Bull.
“And we are still 50 seconds behind. We have not moved.”
Sainz emphasized that the issues Ferrari faces are not due to a lack of effort from the factory and commended their dedication. However, he pointed out a lack of understanding in making the cars faster during races, leaving the drivers to look back in disappointment.
“They are giving everything – nothing can be blamed on them,” Sainz added.
“We tried everything. Parts of the car have arrived that should not have arrived at this race. Maranello is dedicated, but there is a lack of understanding to make these cars faster in the race.”
Leclerc’s struggles have raised concerns, with Coronel suggesting that he has lost his way. There have been rumours linking Leclerc to Mercedes, but Coronel believes Ferrari might consider parting ways with the talented Monegasque driver to bring in a fresh perspective.
“Yes, I think it’s the other way around,” said Coronel.
“They have to make a choice at Ferrari that shakes things up.
“A rumour is really cool, but for all I care I think they should pay Lewis (Hamilton) 20 million too much to get him. Then at least something happens in that team to give them a bit of positivity.
“They need someone like Lewis because the package they have is wrong. So start with this – drop the bomb. Because they need something new.”
Former F1 driver Christijan Albers echoed Coronel’s sentiment, expressing doubts about Leclerc’s consistency and comparing him unfavourably to drivers like Fernando Alonso, Max Verstappen, and Lewis Hamilton, whose lap times remain consistently competitive.
“They thought they had the new winner in Leclerc,” Albers said.
“He’s a monster in qualifying, but in the race it’s always 50-50 – you never know where you stand and it’s never consistent.
“If you then look at a Fernando Alonso, a Max, a Lewis Hamilton, all their laptimes are within a few tenths of each other. If you then look at a Carlos Sainz or a Sergio Perez or a Leclerc, then it’s more like a casino.”
Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur acknowledged that the upgrades brought to Barcelona represented a step forward, but he admitted the team is still struggling to understand the underlying problems affecting their performance. Vasseur highlighted the inconsistency as a major issue, stating that they have not been able to consistently deliver fast laps during races.
Leclerc himself expressed frustration with the inconsistency, mentioning problems with both the rear and front of the car during the weekend. However, no specific issues were found upon examination.
Vasseur concluded that Ferrari can make a relatively quick comeback, but they need to take a challenging step forward, which is not an easy task. The team has been grappling with these problems for months without finding a solution.
“We can come back relatively quickly, but first we have to take the step. And it’s not an easy step,” he said.
“We’ve had a couple of months but we couldn’t solve the problem.”
As Ferrari continues to search for answers, the pressure mounts on Leclerc and the team to turn their fortunes around and regain their competitive edge in the highly competitive world of Formula 1.