Leclerc concerned about heavy Ferrari tyre wear after near-instantaneous drop-off

Charles Leclerc was passed late on in the Imola sprint by Max Verstappen after suffering from graining.

Charles Leclerc is remaining optimistic that Ferrari can compete for the win at the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after Max Verstappen won the sprint race, but he is concerned by their heavy tyre wear.

Leclerc got an exceptional launch at the start of the race to get ahead of Verstappen after qualifying behind him in wet conditions on Friday, and it looked as though he might streak clear of the reigning champion after opening the gap to over a second.

But his tyres suffered a near-instantaneous drop-off, and the excessive graining on his Ferrari left him with nothing to fight with as the Dutchman passed him on the penultimate lap to take all eight points.

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Despite this, the 24-year-old sees the benefits of still being towards the front for the start of the main event on Sunday.

“It’s still a front row start,” Leclerc said after the sprint.

“We struggled with the tyres at the end so we need to analyse that for tomorrow, at the end the main race is tomorrow.

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“We need to make sure that we are ready but the pace was good until then, then we started to have some graining on the front left and lost it towards the end but it’s fine, we’ll work and come back stronger tomorrow.”

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There were no fans at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s a sell-out in Bologna this weekend.

There is hardly a better time for Ferrari to race in front of the Tifosi than when they are leading the Constructors’ Championship by 47 points from Red Bull.

“It’s incredible, every time we are in Italy we have so much support and it’s amazing to see so many people in the grandstand,” Leclerc added.

Red Bull, meanwhile, passed Mercedes for second in the Constructors’ Standings with Verstappen’s late sprint victory and Sergio Perez’s P3 finish.