Charles Leclerc highlights strange Ferrari trend which hampered Qatar qualy efforts

Jamie Woodhouse
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, speaks to media.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc speaks to the media after qualifying.

Charles Leclerc revealed that Ferrari were unable to get their rear tyres in the window on opening flying laps throughout Qatar qualifying.

Leclerc will be the lead Ferrari on the Qatar Grand Prix grid come Sunday when he launches from P5, a result which he said was the maximum which Ferrari could have extracted from Friday-night qualifying on this sprint weekend.

But, Leclerc would shed some light on the frustrating trend following Ferrari throughout the qualifying sessions which meant more was not possible.

Ferrari struggle to keep rear tyres happy

Leclerc revealed that while the second push laps were not a problem, rear-tyre issues meant the opening flying laps were a write-off, meaning come Q3 he only had one lap in that window to secure himself the best possible grid slot.

“We had an issue in the high-speed on the first lap which made me downshift, being flat out, which wasn’t great. We lost quite a bit there,” Leclerc told Sky F1 after qualifying.

“And then we struggled a lot basically with the first timed lap. We were very strong with the second timed lap, but whenever we had to do the lap straight out of the box, we were struggling like crazy with the rear tyres.

“So I think that’s a bit the explanation why we struggled then in Q3, because then it was basically only one lap. On my first run, I had to abort the first one for the same reason and then in my second run, I had no choice but doing one lap, so that’s what we did.

“But all in all, we maximised with what we had. We just need to work for tomorrow to try and find the pace for straight away.”

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Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz meanwhile had an even rougher time on Friday at the Lusail International Circuit, failing to make the cut for Q3.

He spoke of how when the track temperatures dropped as night set in for qualifying, the grip disappeared with the daylight.

“Had a very difficult qualy,” Sainz reflected. “Right from the beginning, just struggling quite a bit with the balance. Rear was very, very loose.

“While in FP1 I managed to switch on the tyres and get a decent grip on this new surface, when the track temp dropped this afternoon, I just couldn’t find any grip out there so I just struggled quite heavily.

“So yeah, I’m not surprised to be out in Q3 [sic].

“Hopefully we can turn it around for tomorrow the sprint and have a better Saturday, but definitely Sunday is going to be tricky, starting from so far back on a difficult track to overtake.

“But my main focus now is to try and see what we can do better tomorrow.”

Ferrari will have the chance to make amends in Saturday’s sprint shootout and race, before Leclerc prepares to launch from P5 and Sainz P12 for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

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