Charles Leclerc fears Ferrari’s front tyre woes in the French Grand Prix will return to haunt them at Silverstone on Sunday.
At Paul Ricard, the Scuderia’s cars suffered dreadfully with tyre degradation as Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz tumbled down the order from highly promising grid positions in the top seven to finish 16th and 11th respectively in the race.
That was a huge anomaly in performance and cost Ferrari significantly in their battle with McLaren for third place in the Constructors’ World Championship, especially on a day when Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo both finished in the top six.
Silverstone is another circuit also known for high tyre wear, as evidenced by last year’s British Grand Prix when three drivers suffered front-left punctures late in the race – Valtteri Bottas’ enabling Leclerc to finish third behind Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
The Monegasque driver obviously hopes luck may be on his side again, but is concerned about a repeat of his Paul Ricard misery.
L̶i̶v̶e̶,̶ ̶L̶o̶v̶e̶ 𝗟𝗔𝗨𝗚𝗛 🤣
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) July 15, 2021
“We are learning quite a bit this season, especially after Paul Ricard where we had a big problem with the front tyres,” Leclerc told reporters at Silverstone on media day.
“This is a track where we could have a similar type of problem, so it will be very interesting for us how much progress we have made in these few weeks analysing this issue and see whether we manage to get rid of that problem or not.
“It’s been a strong track for me in the past. We were a bit lucky last year. We were competitive last year – probably not enough to be on the podium in a normal race, but we did it.
“Hopefully we are as competitive as last year, with the luck we had last year, and we find ourselves again on the podium.”
At least Ferrari, and all the other teams, will have a free tyre choice for the race due to the debut of sprint qualifying, which means the use of tyre allocations will need to be approached differently to normal given the adjusted rules.
But Leclerc is relishing trying out the new format.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s exciting to have a bit of a different weekend,” he added.
“It will be very tricky, only FP1 before qualifying, so it will be very important to get the set-up right in that session because after that you get to stay with that car for the rest of the weekend.”