‘We are checking’: Charles Leclerc’s race engineer’s most iconic lines as Ferrari make switch

Sam Cooper
Charles Leclerc and Xavier Marcos Padros

Xavier Marcos Padros has been Charle Leclerc's race engineer since 2019.

Xavier Marcos Padros will no longer be the voice in Charles Leclerc’s ears but not before he became famous for his rather unusual radio messages.

After working together since Leclerc’s debut for Ferrari in 2019, Xavier Marcos, or Xavi for short, has been moved to another department within the team while Bryan Bozz will be the new man guiding Leclerc through a weekend. With that in mind, here are some of Xavi’s most iconic lines.

Xavi Marcos’ best lines as Ferrari make Charles Leclerc race engineer switch

“If we can keep Bottas behind, P1”

In 2021, Leclerc was chasing a rare win in Turkey and with 13 laps to go, found himself leading the pack.

The only problem was, he had a rampaging Valtteri Bottas behind him.

Leclerc had a choice of pushing and potentially suffering extreme tyre deg or managing his tyres and hoping to keep Bottas in his rearview mirrors.

Battling the wet conditions, Leclerc reached out to Marcos to ask him: “If we stay at this pace, what are we looking for in terms of position?”

And the answer was well, less than helpful.

“If we can keep Bottas behind, P1”

Thanks, Xavi.

“What the hell does that mean?”

One of Marcos’ most recent radio messages came in China when Leclerc, who was comfortably P4 was struggling to understand what his engineer was trying to tell him.

Marcos told Leclerc to “try original line Turns 7 and 8 for comparison” in the penultimate lap which was met with a “what?” response from the driver.

Marcos tried the instruction again to which Leclerc said “I don’t understand. ‘Horizontal line? What the hell is that?”

“Original line! Like the beginning of the race,” Marcos replied and that seemed the end of that but a short while later, the exchange went like this:

Leclerc: ‘Original line’, you said?

Marcos: ‘Original line’, yes.

Leclerc: What the hell does that mean?

Marcos: Just forget it, it’s last lap.

Leclerc remained in fourth.

Marcos gives Leclerc a heart attack

Back in Austin last year, Marcos decided to give Leclerc a heart attack in the Texan sun by maybe not using the best syntax after the Ferrari driver had taken pole.

Marcos: “So lap time deleted for Verstappen.”

Leclerc: “For f**k’s sake, tell me the name before.”

Marcos: “Verstappen lap time deleted,”

Leclerc: “Yeah, well I had a heart attack in the meantime.”

Xavi the party pooper

If anyone recalls Mick Schumacher being told no by Haas for some post-season donuts, Leclerc suffered a similar fate when he wanted to let off steam in Abu Dhabi last year.

Having endured a tough campaign, the driver was first told to use “mode slow” to which he replied: “I don’t care bout mode slow, where are we in the Constructors?”

“P3” was the reply to which he swore and said he would do some burnouts.

“No burnouts please. Straight to the grid.” Marcos said.

“Arghhhh, not even this for f**k’s sake,” replied Leclerc.

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A very clear message from the Ferrari pit wall

One thing you want as a driver is a clear and concise message from your race engineer and one of Leclerc’s frustrations over the years has been how he is forced to be part driver, part strategist.

Well one of Marcos’ most egregious examples of that came at Spa when he produced this radio message to his driver.

“Currently the hard tyre seems to be okay, but I think you are on a medium which also seems to be working. If you pit now we will give you the medium tyre but also if you want to be on a hard that is fine. I hope you’re not too busy, but the pace you’re at is currently good. If you do a pit stop now you’ll have to come in and box. Question?”

Poor Leclerc was forced to listen to all that while being “too busy” driving a Formula 1 car.

Marcos and Ferrari keep their finger on the pulse

It does not take long to find some examples of times when Leclerc was frustrated with the lack of speed from the Ferrari pit wall.

Whether it was a late call to pit, or not to pit, as was also the case, or hesitancy with a strategy call, Leclerc was never too far away from a confusing radio message.

But one of the most memorable examples came at Leclerc’s home race last year when he was handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris.

However, the stewards reviewed the team radio, and Leclerc’s team failed to give him any warning about Norris’ approach until the McLaren driver was already directly behind him.

Norris came charging through the tunnel but had to stop quickly behind Leclerc who had already completed his flying lap.

This prompted an investigation from the stewards and their reasoning for a three-placed grid penalty firmly said who was to blame.

“The stewards believe that there is much that Leclerc could have done prior to the tunnel to avoid the impeding had he received warning from the team at an appropriate time, especially considering that Norris’ approach was clear on the marshalling system.”

“We are checking”

No one knows just how many times Marcos has said those three words but the frequency of it has made it his catchphrase.

With his distinct Spanish accent, the term “we are checking” is one you can hear in your head and goes right along with “question?”

Marcos may have had his faults but that voice will be missed from the grid.

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