Leclerc cost himself P4 by asking for ‘too much wing’

Date published: September 4 2021 - Jamie Woodhouse

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, looking focused. Netherlands, September 2021.

Charles Leclerc was left regretting his request for more wing at Zandvoort, feeling the decision denied him P4 on the grid.

With Red Bull’s Sergio Perez dropping out in Q1, that left a spot on the second row very much up for grabs.

Ferrari had been looking strong throughout practice ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix and were strong contenders for that P4 slot.

Ultimately though, Leclerc was beaten to it by the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly. That was a situation he felt could have been avoided.

“Yes, it was possible,” he told Sky Italia when asked if the second row had been a possibility.

“It’s a pity, I asked maybe for a bit too much wing on the last run in Q3. Because on the first run in Q3 I felt a bit of understeer, but I had to go with understeer on the last run because we lost a bit the back [of the car].

“In particular at Turn 10, there I lost a lot the back [of the car]. That cost me, in my opinion, the hundredths for the fourth place. So it’s a pity, but anyway tomorrow with a good start we can compete with the ones ahead.”

There are some fears about overtaking possibilities around this tight Zandvoort track but as Formula 3 demonstrated, the banking in particular at Turn 3 opened up opportunities with drivers taking different lines.

And come the Dutch Grand Prix, Leclerc expects drivers to find new ways through the banked corners compared to qualifying.

“For me, the bankings are really interesting because they are lines we don’t see anywhere else,” said Leclerc.

“So in all the free practices we tried different lines to see which one was best. In the end, we found it for qualifying.

“And tomorrow for the race, the lines will be different again to overtake.”

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Carlos Sainz will share the third row with team-mate Leclerc after qualifying P6, and following a heavy crash earlier on Saturday in FP3 he was just grateful to his mechanics for getting his SF21 ready for qualifying.

“The fact we took part in qualifying is only thanks to all the mechanics that did an incredible job,” he said.

“I don’t know how they did that honestly, because the car hadn’t arrived 20, 25 minutes after the session. There was an hour and a half to get ready to go out.

“I don’t know how they did that. They managed to fix it and go out to do two runs in Q1 that allowed me to gain confidence.

“And from there, the point of tension, of pressure, was very high in Q1 but in the end we managed to do it and I thank them because it was incredible to watch.”

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla