Leclerc lifts lid on early Formula 1 struggles

Charles Leclerc needed time to adjust to the scale of the Formula 1 paddock.

Charles Leclerc needed time to adjust to the scale of the Formula 1 paddock.

Charles Leclerc claims the size of the Formula 1 paddock was “intimidating” for him upon his arrival to the category.

The Monegasque driver stepped up to the Formula 1 grid for the 2018 season, joining Sauber after back-to-back titles in GP3 and Formula 2.

Leclerc will partner Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari for 2019, replacing Kimi Raikkonen who heads the other way to take his seat at Sauber.

After a difficult opening three races, Leclerc finished the last campaign with 39 points and impressed enough to earn a Ferrari seat after several years under their young driver programme.

The 21-year-old claimed, however, that he struggled at first to adapt to the number of people he needed to communicate with in the paddock.

Speaking via Motorsport Week, he said: “Most of it comes from just getting used to this paddock, to the things we need to do around driving that I didn’t expect at the beginning of the year,” he explained of his progress.

“And all these things are small details but make quite a big difference.

“I’ve learned to work with quite a lot more people, before [in junior series] you speak only to your engineer and that’s it, all these things have changed me quite a bit.

“At the beginning first of all it’s quite intimidating to speak to so many people because you know that everything you are going to say is going to be analysed, not only by engineers but by so many people.

“Then you get used to it, then also the type of feedback you give… you can be a lot more precise with everything you say because there’s a lot more people in the background.

“In Formula 2 you try and focus on the main points [of giving feedback] as there’s only one or two [people] maximum focusing to get the car better, it’s a different approach and it takes a bit of time to get used to it.”

Leclerc credited the qualifying and race trim mistakes he made during his opening three races as major factors behind his turnaround in form.

“Definitely the first three races I learned massively,” he explained.

“I worked extremely hard in the first three races just to understand and identify my weaknesses, what were the things that were just not going right.

“And after these first three races we finally understood with the team and made a big step forward and since then we were quite strong actually.”

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