Mystery surrounds Ferrari over Charles Leclerc’s ‘undriveable’ SF-23

Michelle Foster
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in the garage not looking happy. Spain June 2023

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in the garage not looking happy. Spain June 2023

Fred Vasseur has revealed Ferrari have yet to conduct a full examination of Charles Leclerc’s SF-23 after a troubled weekend at the Spanish GP ended with a distant P11.

Leclerc failed to make it out of Q1 at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday with the five-time grand prix winner lamenting an “undriveable” car, with his biggest complaint being that there’s “something off in the left-hand corners”.

Qualifying down in 19th place, Ferrari opted to change the gearbox, “effectively all the backend” as Jock Clear put it, to ensure “there’s nothing on there that is untoward”.

The changes did little to help Leclerc who struggled to make his way through the field and eventually finished down in 11th place where he narrowly avoided being lapped by race winner Max Verstappen.

“I don’t understand what we are doing wrong, but we are doing something wrong,” said a dejected Leclerc.

Ferrari will now examine Leclerc’s car with Vasseur revealing they weren’t able to do an in-depth search after qualifying.

“We don’t know about Charles,” he told Sky Germany. “We weren’t allowed to search because of the regulations so we modified the car so that he could race.

“We have to examine the car in the factory.” recommends

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Leclerc failed to score a point while his team-mate Carlos Sainz, having started P2 on the front row of the grid, dropped to fifth.

“The pace was missing with the medium,” said the team boss. “We were worried because Charles had problems on the hard. In the end, Carlos was better on the hard.

“We are not consistent enough from one stint to the next. We lost fifteen seconds in the second stint, five in the first and five in the third.”

Vasseur, though, tried very hard to find the silver lining.

“You can also take something positive with you,” he insisted. “The fact that we were on the front row with Carlos is positive. It was the best result of this season for Carlos.

“The positive must also be seen, but you need points at the Sunday and needs consistency.”

The race was Ferrari’s first in the revised SF-23, the new-look car swapping out the baby bath sidepods for a downwash concept.

Vasseur is adamant “the potential is there and sooner or later we will be able to unleash that potential by better understanding the tyres and tyre management.

“We must focus on our work and what we have to do.

“We have taken out the positive and the negative, at least I think we have a clearer idea of ​​what we are doing well and what we have to work on, we must not be soft on our analysis.”

“It is clear that we continue to have problems with the tyres, we are too irregular from one stint to another. The positive thing is that the pure performance of the car and its potential is not bad, because we managed to be constantly in the front row.”

Ferrari wasn’t the only team running a new-look car with Mercedes having changed their concept ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

In contrast to Ferrari, they moved up the order in the grand prix with Lewis Hamilton up from fifth to second and George Russell improving from 12th to third.

“Almost the opposite,” he said of the Brackley squad’s form in Spain. “They have a difficult time in qualifying and are strong in the race. They bring it together. We should be able to do that too.”