Fred Vasseur explains how Charles Leclerc error led to critical floor damage

Thomas Maher
Dutch Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc slides through the gravel in his Ferrari at Zandvoort.

Dutch Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc slides through the gravel in his Ferrari at Zandvoort.

Charles Leclerc picked up downforce-sapping levels of damage early on in the Dutch Grand Prix, eventually leading to his retirement.

The Monegasque driver was a mid-race retirement from the Dutch Grand Prix, having been unable to get close to the points places due to extensive damage on his Ferrari.

Circulating in 15th, and falling prey to rookie driver Liam Lawson in his unfancied AlphaTauri as the pair battled, Ferrari opted to bring Leclerc in to retire as the damage to his car was worsening.

Fred Vasseur explains where Charles Leclerc damaged his Ferrari

Leclerc picked up some front wing damage early on in the race, caused when he made contact with the McLaren of Lando Norris as the pair squabbled. But the damage ended up triggering further damage underneath the car, due to the floor being struck by carbon fibre.

With Leclerc getting a new front wing when he pitted on Lap 11, his fortunes failed to improve, with his pace falling away throughout the race until Ferrari retired him on Lap 40.

“He damaged the right endplate and the endplate went into the floor and damaged the bottom of the floor,” Fred Vasseur told media, including, following the Grand Prix.

Leclerc himself had earlier revealed that the damage had cost him some 60 points of downforce – equivalent to several seconds per lap.

“Obviously, already the first lap when I had the damage,” he said, “I could feel much more than the guys were telling me on the radio. Initially, it was five to 10 points as what I’ve been told.

“Then we realised that it was more than 60. And more than 60 is a different category. So after that, the first lap, it was all uphill.” recommends

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Charles Leclerc’s pitstop call singled out for praise

With Leclerc having made the decision by himself to dive into the pits at the end of Lap 1, losing several seconds in the pits as Ferrari weren’t ready in the pitlane for him, Vasseur said he had been very happy with the initiative taken by the Monegasque driver.

“I think that the first [stop] from Charles looks a bit strange from the outside,” he said.

“But it was a very good call from him. It was a very late call, because he was in the pitlane when he told us!

“But, in the end, even if he lost perhaps seven or eight seconds in the pitlane, it was a good one. If you have a look, [Pierre] Gasly also had a good step forward with this kind of call, but it was a good choice to stop on Lap 1.”

Elaborating on why Leclerc had made the decision independently to dive into the pits, only radioing Ferrari at the last possible moment, Vasseur said he had no grounds to complain about how the circumstances had unfolded.

“They [the drivers] all saw the rain before us because it was into the last corner and he decided to pit,” he said.

“It was a very late call. But again, I think it was the right decision because, after the pit stop, he was in a much better position than before. Even with the six, seven seconds that we lost into the pitlane, it was a good call on that.

“If you are 10 seconds behind, or five seconds behind, when you do the call, it’s much easier. I don’t have to complain about this. It was the right call.”

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