Charles Leclerc reveals unseen consequences of latest error in China F1 sprint qualifying

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Charles Leclerc at the wheel of the Ferrari SF24 in Chinese GP practice

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc has revealed his Ferrari was left with bent steering after his latest big mistake in Chinese Grand Prix sprint qualifying, admitting he “again” failed to maximise his pace over one lap.

Having comfortably outpaced Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz in SQ1 and SQ2, Leclerc spun and hit the wall during his out-lap in SQ3 in Shanghai.

Charles Leclerc vents frustrations after latest mistake

The Monégasque was forced to settle for seventh on the grid for Saturday’s sprint race in China, two places and more than three tenths adrift of Sainz.

Leclerc’s latest error comes after he was convincingly outqualified in Australia by Sainz, who went on to claim Ferrari’s first victory of the 2024 season, and Japan, where Leclerc qualified a distant eighth having been restricted to just a single run in Q3 at Suzuka.

Leclerc, who remains without a win since the Austrian Grand Prix in July 2022, cut a frustrated figure at the end of the sprint qualifying session, admitting he once again failed to extract the most from the Ferrari over a single lap.

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And he explained that the rest of his session was hindered by bent steering after his brief off on the approach to Turn 9.

He told Formula 1: “To be honest, the very first out-lap was extremely tricky. It was very difficult to switch on the tyres.

“I tried to be a bit aggressive, but obviously I lost it out of Turn 8. That compromised our quali a little bit as the steering wheel was a little bit bent, but all in all I don’t think there was any miracles. There wasn’t much more we could have done.

“Obviously on my side, again I didn’t maximise qualifying, which I’m not happy with.

“If I have to look at the positives, it’s that I think on the dry I did some big steps forwards and on that I’m happy because I’ve been working a lot on the preparation of the tyres in the dry and it seems to be paying off for today at least.

“But let’s see tomorrow, the race will be long.”

With qualifying for Sunday’s main race due to be held after the sprint in a tweak to the sprint format for 2024, Leclerc is keen to make amends for his mistake on Saturday.

Put to him that Saturday’s qualifying session represents another chance, he replied: “I’m looking forward to it, to show obviously what I was looking for to today, to try and show that.

“But with the rain in SQ3 I didn’t, so we will look to tomorrow to try and maximise the sprint race and then see.”

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