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Formula 1

Leclerc Q2 exit a collective failure but ire at Ferrari shows

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

A frustrated Charles Leclerc accused the Ferrari Formula 1 team of “making our life way too difficult” after being put in a “s****y situation” in Canadian Grand Prix qualifying, where he was eliminated in Q2.

Leclerc failed to make the top 10 shootout for the second F1 race in a row after being knocked out of the second part of qualifying in Montreal when he could only manage 11th place.

He had wanted to switch to slicks immediately but Ferrari refused, making him complete a full flying lap on intermediates, and though Leclerc still had a chance to improve on slick tyres afterwards he felt the delayed switch left him vulnerable and he struggled to make the tyres work in the time available.

“We are just making our life way too difficult,” said Leclerc.

“In those situations, I had a clear opinion. And we decided to do something else. So I am frustrated.

“Having said that, other drivers did the same strategy as us and went through to Q3.

Xpb 1214051 Hires

“But you are just relying on small details instead of an easy Q2 going through.

“When the track is dry, you need slick tyres. And I don’t know what happened.”

He added: “We have to be better than that. And we cannot afford to do those mistakes again. I’ll speak with the team.”

The rain-affected session reached a peak of tension in Q2 as the track dried enough to facilitate a few flying laps on slick tyres before the weather worsened and the circuit got wetter again.

Every car except Alex Albon’s soft-shod Williams was on intermediate tyres at the start of Q2 and Leclerc was comfortably in the top 10 after the first flying laps.

But he failed to improve after switching to softs like the majority of drivers, including team-mate Carlos Sainz, and slipped to 11th – as even Lewis Hamilton managed to get ahead after Mercedes made its own risky call to leave its driver out on intermediates.

Leclerc had multiple flying laps on slicks to set a better time but was unable to, then a last-gasp attempt to improve after switching back to intermediates on an increasingly wet track failed as well.

The inability to do what Sainz and several others did means Leclerc had a role in his Q2 exit, and he effectively acknowledged that but insisted it would have been much easier had Ferrari listened to him.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Canadian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Montreal, Canada

“You’re just making yourself in a s****y situation because you are depending a lot on traffic on your out-lap on the slicks,” said Leclerc.

“If you have people on inters coming behind when it’s raining and you are slowing down a little bit you are sliding everywhere.

“It’s just not an ideal situation. And it was so much easier to go earlier.”

Leclerc wanted to switch to slick tyres straight away as he noticed on his out-lap right at the start of Q2 that the track was dry enough to put soft dry tyres on.

He told his team he thought they should change tyres but Ferrari was seemingly preoccupied with what others were doing, as Leclerc was told Max Verstappen had stayed out and when he reiterated his thought he was told to complete one timed lap.

Leclerc then radioed his team again on his flying lap but Ferrari repeated the message to complete the flying lap, then pit to change tyres.

Though Leclerc has sometimes been criticised for not being vocal enough on key strategic calls, he felt this time he had done all he could and was just not listened to.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Canadian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Montreal, Canada

“There was no clearer way of expressing myself this time,” he said.

“But I will speak internally with the team and try to understand what we can do, because it’s obviously not the first time that in those situations we are a bit on the wrong side.”

He added: “I clearly said my opinion, more than that I cannot really do.

“I have no idea what Alex is doing in terms of laptimes with the slicks. Maybe he’s five seconds off. And I don’t know, but I had a clear opinion.

“Obviously, Alex was fast. So again, I have to understand what was the target in doing that? What was the aim?

“Because the track was dry.”

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