Leclerc targets top four finish from P19 start in Canada

Jamie Woodhouse
Charles Leclerc close up with Halo. FIA Formula 1 Baku June 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc close up with Halo, eyes focused. Baku June 2022

Despite lining-up on the back row in Canada, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has his sights set on working his way into the top four.

After Leclerc’s power unit gave up the ghost last time out in Baku, Ferrari decided to give their driver a full new set of components for the Canadian Grand Prix, which resulted in him dropping to the back of the grid, almost.

With AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda picking up the same penalty, the two went into qualifying battling to avoid propping up the grid, Leclerc winning out there to start P19.

But with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve being a track which lends itself to overtaking, Leclerc is confident in his ability to move up through the order during the race, despite practice suggesting that overtaking may be a little tricky.

Such progress will be crucial in limiting the damage against title rival and Drivers’ Championship leader Max Verstappen, who starts the Canadian GP from pole.

“We will try to make the best out of it tomorrow and then hopefully we can have no more reliability issues any more and focus on ourselves and catch the Red Bulls in the championship,” said Leclerc, quoted by GPFans.

“It was a bit more difficult to overtake than I initially thought [in practice], but overall I think we’ve got quite a good pace in the car if we play it smart with the strategy, having some clean air, we can come back to P4 or something, so that is the goal and I’ll give it everything.”

Initially Leclerc was going to drop 10 places on the grid when Ferrari gave him a third new Control Electronics of the season, but the demotion to the back arrived when Ferrari opted to introduce an entirely new power unit.

Leclerc supported that decision, saying this is the best way to cushion the blow, rather than risk spreading grid penalties across multiple rounds.

He can’t though guarantee that no more penalties will come his way later this season.

“We knew it, we got ready straight from FP1 to try to plan things in order to prepare the race as much as possible because we knew we would start last. I think we did the right choice. It makes it a bit harder for us but it’s inevitable. There is disappointment but on the other hand I knew it was coming, I half expected it.

“I don’t know if there will be any more penalties other than that. Overall I think it’s the best we could have done.

“It’s not a good situation to be in but I guess we took the right decision to put it all on one race instead of having multiple races with 10-place grid penalties.”

Leclerc had been on a run of four pole positions in succession prior to Canada, the Monegasque driver unable to convert any of those into wins, that being through no fault of his own in Spain, Monaco and Azerbaijan.

Following a wet Canadian GP qualifying, dry conditions are expected to return for the race.