Formula 1

Livid Leclerc paid price for deliberately ‘very tricky’ set-up

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc was livid with himself for crashing in Miami Grand Prix qualifying after going “a step too far” a “very aggressive” set-up.

Leclerc made a mistake on his first run in Q3 in Miami then crashed through the tightening left-hand corners that make up Turns 6, 7 and 8.

He had already crashed at that corner in practice while team-mate Carlos Sainz had moments of his own in a Ferrari that had looked on the edge all weekend.

Leclerc said it was “unacceptable” to have made the same mistake at the same corner and that he was “really disappointed in myself”.

He claimed he “put myself in this condition” by advocating for a set-up that proved tricky even by the 2023 Ferrari’s standards, which he hoped would combine with his tendency to take more risks than other drivers and help him overachieve against the superior Red Bulls.

“Qualifying is my strong point,” said Leclerc. “And obviously, I am taking more risks in Q3. That pays off nine times out of 10.

“But this is a weekend where twice, I put it in the wall. And this is just not the level where I want to be.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Miami Grand Prix Qualifying Day Miami, Usa

Leclerc said that the 2023 Ferrari seems more vulnerable to a tailwind than other cars and the wind was a factor in qualifying but he refused to accept this as an excuse.

“I wanted that car to be very tricky, because I knew that’s the way you need to drive this car,” he said.

“And today, it was too much.”

Despite the self-criticism, Leclerc argued he did not need to change his driving style so much as “manage it differently in Q3” – which appears to be linked to the set-up choice he made.

“I put myself also in a difficult situation because I wanted a very aggressive set-up for qualifying, knowing that this was a set-up I will need to extract the most out of the car,” said Leclerc.

“I probably did a step too far. And this is something I’ll look at after the weekend.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Miami Grand Prix Qualifying Day Miami, Usa

Despite poleman Sergio Perez looking vulnerable to Ferrari over one lap and championship leader Max Verstappen starting behind Leclerc after making an error on his first run in Q3 and then failing to finish his second lap because the crash caused a red flag, Leclerc said he can “absolutely not” win Sunday’s race.

In a slightly jumbled order after the messiness of Q3, Leclerc will also start behind an Aston Martin, a Haas, an Alpine and a Mercedes.

“The Aston looks strong on race pace so I don’t know exactly where we are going to be,” said Leclerc.

“But a podium would be a really good finish tomorrow considering our race pace.”

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