Charles Leclerc hints at Ferrari sacrifice in ‘two-car’ strategy against Max Verstappen

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc with a smiling Max Verstappen

Charles Leclerc will attack if the opportunity presents

Lining up second and third on the Miami Grand Prix grid, Chares Leclerc says Ferrari will use a “two-car” strategy to put pressure on Max Verstappen.

Ferrari regained their position as Red Bull’s main challenger at the Miami International Autodrome with Leclerc splitting the Red Bull team-mates in the Sprint.

Charles Leclerc vows to attack ‘if there is an opportunity’

His team-mate Carlos Sainz joined him in that endeavour in qualifying as he relegated Sergio Perez to fourth place.

But while the data crunched hints that Perez could have the better pace come Sunday’s Grand Prix, Leclerc is hoping Sainz can take a rear-gunner role in a two-car strategy as the Monégasque driver dreams of a first win since 2022.

That strategy, though, will depend on keeping Perez behind them at the start.

Encouraged by his pace in the Sprint where he was only three seconds down on Verstappen after 19 laps, Leclerc concedes that while that may have something to do with Verstappen’s complaints about his RB20’s rear-end grip, Ferrari have also taken a step forward.

“In the Sprint race we were a little bit closer to what we normally see,” he said. “However, Max wasn’t really happy with his car in the Sprint race. So we need to see how much of a step forward he does, being happier with the car.

“But as I said, we did some fine-tuning on our side. We’re also confident we did a step forward, so we’ll see.

“But if we have a similar pace like we’ve seen [in the Sprint] then I think with strategy you can always put a bit more a bit more pressure. And I hope that is the case.

“We’ve got the two cars in the front, so it’s a good opportunity.”

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Leclerc, having lined up Verstappen for an overtake in the Sprint but one he was unable to pull off, intends righting that wrong in the Grand Prix.

“The first corner is obviously always important,” he said. “And Max has a very strong race pace. So yeah, it’s definitely an opportunity to attack. But that’s only if there is an opportunity to attack.

“This morning [in the Sprint], there was. I didn’t make the pass. If we manage to make it, then I will be happy. And if not, we’ll be a bit more patient and try to keep those tyres to attack later on.”

As for Sainz, the Spaniard concedes it won’t be easy beating Verstappen but Ferrari will try.

“I think when Max starts in front, it’s always difficult to find ways to beat him. Having two cars is our best possible bet in trying to do that. And we will give it our best shot, knowing that is…

“Obviously, if you look at the last statistics, it’s going to be extremely difficult, but we’ll give it our best shot.”

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