Charles Leclerc laments unexpectedly ‘lacking’ P6 behind after qualy sacrifice

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari garage with his arms crossed

Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari garage with his arms crossed

Charles Leclerc knew his SF-24’s set-up was compromised for qualifying, but the Ferrari driver didn’t expect that he’d be so off the pace he’d finish in sixth place.

Following the excitement and clashes of Saturday’s Sprint in China where Leclerc battled his team-mate Carlos Sainz for fourth place, Leclerc went into qualifying for the Grand Prix with his car set-up with Sunday’s race in mind.

Charles Leclerc reveals ‘no ideal’ qualifying set-up

With the rest of the top ten contesting the pole position shoot-out all chasing Max Verstappen’s time, Leclerc, like Sainz and others, spent a few brief seconds up in P2 only to be dropped.

When all was said and done, the Monégasque driver was down in sixth place and over six-tenths down on Verstappen’s pole position time.

However, more concerning, he was also slower than Fernando Alonso and the McLaren team-mates while Sainz qualified seventh.

Leclerc, though, has revealed his SF-24 was set-up with Sunday’s Grand Prix in mind.

“I think as a team, we were expecting more for sure. We were lacking a bit of performance for some reason, so yeah,” he told Sky F1.

“However, on my side, I knew the set-up I had chosen was not ideal for today, but I did not expect to be behind Aston and McLaren.

“But I believe it’s a good time for tomorrow in the way that I think we have the right car to perform tomorrow.

“It will be all about how fast are we going, are we passing the others to get in front.” recommends

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Charles Leclerc weighs in on DRS train concerns

However, even though Leclerc believes he has a good set-up for the Grand Prix, the driver’s grid position means he could yet find his race undone if he becomes stuck in a DRS train.

That happened in the Sprint where, with five laps to go, Alonso led a train that included Sainz, Sergio Perez and Leclerc with Norris a little way off the back.

At one stage the drivers from Alonso to Leclerc were separated by about 50 metres of tarmac as they all tried to attack into the corners.

That led to entertaining argy-bargy, at least for the fans watching on, with Perez winning the battle ahead of Leclerc and Sainz while Alonso suffered a puncture and retired the car.

“That is the main question mark,” Leclerc replied when asked about DRS train concerns. “If we have a DRS train, we’ll have to be patient and wait for the guy in front to lose DRS. Let’s see.

“The race is longer so there will be for sure laps where there won’t be DRS, and we’ll have to take the opportunity to pass people, and we’ll hopefully come back to the front.”

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