Charles Leclerc says pole positions are no longer a ‘real highlight’ as they are rarely converted into race victories.
While the Monegasque driver has scored 23 pole positions during his time in Formula 1, he has converted just four of these into race wins – Max Verstappen actually winning far more of these races with 11 wins in Grands Prix where Leclerc has started from pole position.
As a result, it’s perhaps little wonder that the Ferrari driver is no longer quite as enamoured by clinching a pole position, given his rotten luck on Sundays afterward.
Charles Leclerc: Pole positions are no longer a highlight
Reflecting on his 2023 season, in which he went without a win after scoring five pole positions, Leclerc was asked about his own personal highlights from the year.
“Normally it’s the victories,” he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
“Of course, a pole position feels good, but I’ve already got 23 of them. And of course, the whole thing is clouded by the fact that I already know on Saturday that Sunday will be much more difficult.
“That’s why pole positions are no longer a real highlight. That’s why the best thing for me this year was that I helped to understand the car and transform it in a direction that is better and will lead us back to success in the medium term.
“Especially because it was so difficult to reach this understanding. Usually, it’s always just about finding a few more points of downforce. This time it’s much more complex and it’s much harder to make the connection between a change and the lap time.”
While teammate Carlos Sainz scored victory in Singapore to clinch the only non-Red Bull win of the season, Leclerc still came out on top in the Drivers’ Championship as he placed fifth to Sainz’s seventh.
Despite this, Leclerc still reckons the overall car performance is more important than where he places relative to his teammate in the points.
“The championship position is always important for me as a driver,” he said.
“But whether I finish fourth or seventh is secondary to whether we soon find our way back to a competitive car, as we had in the first half of the 2022 season.”
With Ferrari going through something of a refresh in 2023 as Fred Vasseur assumed control of the disorganised Scuderia following the departure of Mattia Binotto, Leclerc said he’s confident his team will make a step forward next season – although how that will compare to the rest remains to be seen.
“I am one hundred percent convinced that we will take a step forward next year,” he said.
“Unfortunately, everything in this sport is relative. If Red Bull finds another second, everyone will look old. You can never be sure.
“Compared to Red Bull, we’re not talking about a tenth that we have to make up in race trim, but many tenths. That means a lot of work, and everyone is aware of that.
“I trust this team because we don’t lie to each other. That’s why I also believe that we will catch up. But I can’t give you a time frame.”