Why Charles Leclerc is predicting tears in Barcelona, pain in neck for Lando Norris

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc looking dejected in the post-qualifying press conference. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc looking dejected in the post-qualifying press conference. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Racing on the revised Barcelona layout for the first time, Charles Leclerc reckons the drivers are going to find their left front tyre “crying” throughout the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona has undergone a few changes since Max Verstappen won last year’s race, the most notable a revised configuration with the chicane that used to be before the final corner having been removed.

Returning to what is effectively the pre-2007 layout without the chicane, the drivers will now sweep through back-to-back high-speed corners for Turns 12 and 13.

It promises to be a test for the tyres, a concern for Leclerc given Ferrari’s F1 cars and tyres haven’t been on friendly terms of late.

“I think the left front will be crying for the whole race,” the five-time grand prix winner said.

But, he added: “It’s the same for everybody, it’s going to be a big challenge I think in terms of set-up, and also to try and help that left front as much as possible.

“I hope that with the new parts we bring, we will be good in terms of tyre management, because I expect this to be the main thing in Barcelona.”

Lando Norris, however, is wary that it won’t just be the tyres that are crying.

“It will be even more physical on the neck, so I’m not looking forward to it at all,” said the McLaren driver. “Whether it’s going to make for better racing, I hope so.

PlanetF1.com recommends

All eyes on three under-pressure drivers at Spanish Grand Prix

Ferrari issue worrying update on chances of challenging Red Bull in F1 2023

“It’s a tricky last corner, to be honest. I wouldn’t say it’s going to be flat-out, but I think it should help with the racing.

“It might become more of a management race than what it already is, and it’s already a huge management race.”

Not everyone, though, has concerns about the new layout.

Lewis Hamilton believes it will be “fun”, the Mercedes driver saying: “Our car has never liked that chicane, I’ve never liked it.

“So we’re going to come out of turn 12 and then flat, probably flat-out through the last two. It’s going to be great for our neck, great for tyre wear, and it’s going to be fun.”

Haas’ Kevin Magnussen is also looking forward to it.

“It’s going to be exciting to try the original layout without the chicane,” said the 30-year-old. “It always seemed like a great sequence of corners – the last two corners – with it being so high-speed.

“Let’s see what that does for overtaking. I have a feeling it might be slightly better for overtaking but time will tell.”

Removing the chicane has changed the official length of the track, which is now 18 metres shorter at 4.657 kilometres.