Leclerc says Ferrari ‘have to do better’ after overruling his call for slick tyres

2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc says he is “frustrated” with Ferrari after a late change to slick tyres in Q2 led to his early elimination from qualifying.

The Ferrari driver told his team he wanted slick tyres early in the session, but was overruled, and by the time they were fitted the rain had returned and he was unable to set a quick enough time to reach Q3.

As Q2 began, Leclerc was one of many drivers who took to the damp track on intermediate tyres. However, after just a few corners, Leclerc began to lobby race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros to pit immediately for dry tyres.

“It’s looking quite dry,” Leclerc said over the radio. “There is a line that is nearly dry. I think we should box for softs, but let me know if you want to put a lap in.”

However he was told to complete a flying lap on his intermediate tyres first. “We would like to set a lap,” Marcos Padros replied, “so we stay out and we do one timed lap.”

“Guys, it’s drying,” Leclerc urged later around his out-lap. “We need to set the lap time,” Marcos Padros insisted.

Leclerc’s time on intermediates was good enough for sixth, but by the time he had returned to the pits and switched to slicks, Alexander Albon had already used dry weather tyres to go fastest of all in the session. By this stage, the rain was now intensifying.

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As a result, Leclerc failed to improve on his first flying lap on slicks. His next lap was then ruined by a mistake at the final chicane, and his time was deleted for breaching track limits.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Canadian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Leclerc was unable to improve his time and as the track lost grip he returned to the pits for intermediate tyres in a desperate final effort to reach Q3. He ran off track at turn six, which sealed his elimination in 11th.

Speaking after qualifying, Leclerc said he was “frustrated” the team had not heeded his call to switch to slicks earlier.

“I called for slicks on the out-lap. It was clearly [ready] for slicks, the [track] was dry,” he said. “I think Alex did that and went earlier than everybody on the slicks and that was clearly the right choice.

“There was no risk taken whatsoever. For some reason, the team decided otherwise, that’s it.”

Ferrari’s strategy calls in rain-hit qualifying sessions have frustrated Leclerc before. In Interlagos last year he was the only driver sent out on intermediate tyres at the beginning of Q3, which meant he qualified 10th.

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After today’s qualifying session Leclerc said “I think we are just making our life way too difficult.

“I had a clear opinion and we decided to do something else. I am frustrated.

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

The result leaves Leclerc starting outside the top 10 for the second consecutive weekend. He says the team must improve their decision-making to avoid further frustrations in the future.

“I don’t want to comment on it too much but we have to be better than that, and we cannot afford to do those mistakes again,” he said. “So, I’ll speak with the team.”

It is the latest in a series of apparent failures of communication at Ferrari over the last year and a half stretching back to when Leclerc appeared to be in contention for the drivers’ championship against Max Verstappen in the early phase of last season. Leclerc insists he made himself clear to the team about what they should have done but that they made the wrong decision.

“I think there was no clearer way of expressing myself this time,” Leclerc insisted. “But I’ll 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.”

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2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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32 comments on “Leclerc says Ferrari ‘have to do better’ after overruling his call for slick tyres”

  1. Firing Binoto was really only window dressing on a much larger problem at Ferrari. The problems there are endemic throughout the team and Vasseur needs to be more ruthless in making changes.

  2. I like Leclerc. But – does anyone believe that Schumacher would have been overruled at all, never mind in this almost disinterested fashion? Of course not. It might not come natural to him, but Leclerc has to assert himself more. This is not the first time he’s quietly going along with an evidently deficient idea from the Ferrari pitwall. And yes… Silverstone.

    1. Good observation.

      I wrote it here before and I repeat again: Ferrari has a very weak lineup. Their drivers are not championship-level material and it’s disheartening to see that people still can’t see it.

      People at Ferrari instinctively know it. They need better drivers—someone who will push them to fix operational problems.

      1. @micio

        Agreed 100%. He should have been able to get through on his first inter laps anyway like Alonso. At least with Leclerc the speed is there to win a title if he has a car advantage that doesn’t require overdrivng. Sainz is equally crash happy, but without the same turn of speed.

        Reply moderated
      2. People at Ferrari instinctively know it. They need better drivers—someone who will push them to fix operational problems.

        Ask Alain Prost about his experience with the team when he tried to do that in the 90’s.
        You’re saying the talents of Alonso and Vettel (good enough for 6 titles elsewhere) weren’t pushing enough for changes in team operations or have made Ferrari realize that after wasting 2 WDC’s primes, they have to fix the problems if they want to be winning again with new talent?

        Ferrari don’t have a drivers problem. They have a team problem where they can’t supply the drivers with what they need and it affects their performance in the car. Compare that Max who only has to focus on driving and not multitask everything cause he knows the RB pitwall has his back.

        Reply moderated
        1. Schumacher went to Ferrari in 1996 and started the healing process.

          That’s what I mean. Truly great drivers who are in their prime, will push Ferrari and win for them again.

          Leclerc and Sainz are not such drivers.

      3. Alan S Thomson
        18th June 2023, 3:33

        Ferrari has had multiple world champions in their lineups since 2009 and accomplished nothing. Ferrari is the problem and not the drivers.

        1. Ferrari is the problem and not the drivers.

          Many of us have said it – the thing that beats Ferrari every time, is Ferrari.
          There’s an old saying, “the fish rots from the head” it goes way up. There are pressures on Vasseur from above, coming from people that can’t see that they are part of the problem.
          Still, we all live in hope that one day, maybe, Ferrari will come good.

        2. Alonso did a great job at Ferrari. The car was bad but he managed to fight for the championship far longer than Leclerc in a great car last year.

          If Alonso was at Ferrari last year instead of Leclerc, Max wouldn’t have had such an easy job defending the title.

    2. Unfortunately team radios were pretty damn rare back then, but I agree, he wouldn’t have accepted inter tyres on a dry track.

      Having said this, the only one who gambled early on was albon, all others were on the same strategy as leclerc, so this is not as bad from ferrari (imo) as it was last brazil quali (I think it was), where leclerc was the only one on inters with the others on dry, so the others did a lap and by the time he got dry tyres it had started raining: that was really terrible strategy, this looked reasonable to me: set a banker lap just in case the rain increases, then get slicks and if the track stays dry enough you’ll improve, unfortunately it looks like that 1 extra lap made the difference between making slicks work or not.

      1. Let’s not forget that Brian was also one of the greatest strategist F1 is ever seen. Michael completely trusted him if he assured Michael that the strategy he had would win him the race and Brawn trusted Michael when he was insistent on his end.

        Reply moderated
      2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        18th June 2023, 2:41

        Totally agree with you here. Everyone else seemed to do just fine overall on a similar strat as Ferrari. Max was one of the first runners so he was able to get in, change, and get out to multiple laps on dries after putting a time on inters. Even Sainz was able to do a decent enough job to get into Q3. I’m a huge Leclerc fan but I think he was just not focused or something. He was very inconsistent in this qually with multiple lap deletions and offs. He simply didn’t have the “it” factor in these tough conditions.

        1. Leclerc did make mistakes on all his runs, maybe only the banker he didnt?

      3. Vettel has consistently call strategy while driving in Ferrari.

        Reply moderated
    3. MichaelN,
      I disagree with your perspective. It is important to note that Leclerc emerged from Ferrari’s junior drivers program, which implies that he may have limited influence over contract clauses during negotiations.

      Conversely, Michael Schumacher had established himself as a top driver in Formula 1 following the death of Ayrton Senna. Schumacher held a strong bargaining position, receiving offers from both McLaren and Williams. His salary reportedly reached a staggering £25 million per year, placing him among the highest-paid athletes in the world alongside Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson.

      In the case of Leclerc, it is in his upcoming contract negotiations where he can assert himself as the number one driver and seek to impose his desired conditions.

      On another note, and having said that countless times. Binotto’s team was dysfunctional and Vasseur must stop selling the newcomer story and start making deep changes within the team. Leclerc’s race engineer is not suited to the job. There is a big gap between his skills and the job description.

      1. @tifoso1989 If Leclerc has been unable to establish himself after 100+ Grand Prix to the point that Ferrari still doesn’t trust him, then that’s a problem. As Nick T. notes, it’s key for the driver and the engineer to trust each other and be on the same page. Now it might well be that Padros is the main issue, but I’m also not seeing Leclerc demand a change. That too is a problem. What is he waiting for? Another 100 Grand Prix?

        You cannot wait to fix these operational issues until the car is there. Verstappen had his wake-up moment in early 2018, and was pretty much racing at a championship winning level since then. When the car was there, he knocked it out of the park. If he and Red Bull had waited to shape up until 2021, Hamilton would have walked all over him.

  3. Only Facts!
    18th June 2023, 0:36

    The more both of them, Sainz and Leclerc, expose Ferrari’s flaws on race control, the better for the team.

    Unless the blame game takes over and the problems go again under the rug.

    Whoever is calling the shots Is wrong (or too afraid) since Binotto days.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      18th June 2023, 2:47

      I don’t see this as a Ferrari strat issue today. I that they get a lot wrong and easy to point the finger at them, but I see todays strat as just playing it safe. Hind sight is always 20 20 but everyone else did the exact same strat as Ferrari except Albon (lets be honest, they had nothing to lose do what they did). Leclerc just didn’t put the laps in that he needed. Sainz, same car and same strat did just fine. Leclerc struggled in Q1 as well, he was not with it today and it showed. Multiple lap deletions/offs, he just didn’t look comfortable out there.

      1. I don’t think Leclerc struggled in Q1. He was comfortable ahead of Sainz on both runs at the close of play with an 8 tenth gap changing to a 4 tenth gap on Sainz’s final lap. For the first run in Q2, Leclerc was again 2 tenths ahead.

        However, I agree the mistake on the slick run was the key factor.

        1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          18th June 2023, 15:53

          Charles had his first lap deleted due to track limits and had an off in Q1 (He also had I think two offs in Q2). He didn’t put in a lap until his third attempt. Plus, Sainz was on the exact same strat and he didn’t have much issues putting the lap times in. Virtually the entire field did the exact same strat so it was all on Charles here in that he was just not good enough on Saturday! Like I said, I understand that its easy laying it on Ferrari as they had bottled up so many times, but this was not a screw job by Ferrari here. Charles just couldn’t get it done.

      2. I’m afraid foresight was 20/20 here as well. I couldn’t believe they were staying out on inters whilst I was watching it.

        I didn’t see but someone else mentioned Leclerc made a mistake on his lap after everyone had pitted – why finish the lap then? Pit and get the slicks on now you can see Albon setting purple sectors!

        It was just yet another chapter in the multi-volume book of Ferrari making bad strategy calls. I wonder how they’ll screw up today?

        Reply moderated
        1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          18th June 2023, 15:58

          You maybe saying that, fine, but we are watching it on TV and it’s a guessing game. It’s not as an easy call as you may want to believe. If Charles pitted before making a lap on inters and rain suddenly came in, they Charles is screwed as the initial conditions are always going to be the best prior to the rain coming in. At the end of the day all the other drivers got their jobs done, except for Charles and Perez. Perez was doing similar strat as well mind you. At first I was blaming Ferrari but the closer you look at how things unfolded and how other teams operated… the only one that nailed it in Q2 was one driver on Williams.

      3. @flyingferrarim It makes sense for a team to play it safe when they’re in a title battle and don’t want to end up starting P15 while their competitor ends up on the front row. But Ferrari is not in that position.

        Now it might well be that Leclerc didn’t perform well enough, and that’s fair to call out, but if he wants other tyres – he needs to come in and get those tyres. Ferrari has nothing to lose either, competitively speaking. They’re looking at guaranteed 4th in the WCC unless something changes to upset the order.

  4. Jimmy Cliff
    18th June 2023, 0:48

    I think Leclerc needs to look at the data and his times versus Sainz.

    Leclerc and Sainz had exact same tire strategy, start with inters, set a lap, pit for softs and do 2 consecutive push laps. Sainz the whole time was less than a sector behind Leclerc so same time, same tire, same conditions => all up to driver.

    Leclerc has some real explaining to do himself to Ferrari. How is is possible that Sainz (no rain god by any stretch of the imagination) was 1.5 seconds quicker in both push laps, he was quicker than Leclerc in every sector. Sainz improved his time on he 1st of softs and then again on 2nd lap of softs, Leclerc failed to improve his inter time on both soft push laps. Leclerc then goes for a 3rd push lap and again fails to set a better time than he did on inters.

    Inter: 1:20:777
    Soft 1: 1:20:398
    Soft 2: 1.19.856

    Inter: 1:20:615
    Soft 1: 1:21:895
    Soft 2: 1:21:440
    Soft 3: 1:20:824

    Again Sainz and Leclerc had the same car, same tire and were on the track at the same time less than a sector apart.

    Max, Piastri, Alonso and both Mercedes had set better lap times on Inter than Leclerc. Alonso did even a 2nd push lap on inters while the rest pitted and improved his time from 1:20:523 to 1:19:776.

    If Leclerc would either have done a 2nd push lap on inters (like Alonso), set a better first lap on inters or actually manage to improve his time on 1 of 3 soft laps (like Sainz) he would be in Q3.

    Ferrari didn’t mistake, they had a sensible approach given the conditions and same as most teams, Leclerc simply failed himself by being too slow.

    Reply moderated
  5. They also exposed themselves for the not quite top drivers they are. And I’d like that to not be the case. I quite like Charles. As for Sainz, I’ve always found him vaguely irritating.

    Reply moderated
  6. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    18th June 2023, 2:41

    Alonso seemed to get frustrated with Ferrari’s dithering and Vettel was often found trying to lead Ferrari strategy while driving the car. This is nothing new – they won’t listen to either Leclerc or Sainz, they never have done. Ferrari have problems but none of them have ever been who they have driving the car.

    1. @rocketpanda except in this case there was nothing wrong with Ferrari’s strategy as almost everyone followed this very strategy.
      Leclerc didn’t do well enough.

  7. They were right. He needed to set a lap due to the conditions and there were no reason gambling this much in Q2 – unless you were Albon of course. It is no ones else fault than his own for not providing good enough laps when he had the opportunity – nearly everyone else were running the same strategy and in a Ferrari he should have been able to beat them.
    Had it been Q3 and gambling for pole, then it would have been the right call.
    This is on Leclerc and him alone just like it is on Perez for not making Q3.

  8. This sounds very disingenuous from leclerc – he made an error on the lap that counted. Albon’s strategy might have been better but who’s to say leclerc wouldn’t have made an error on the slick.

  9. Leclerc just needs to learn to be more assertive. Instead of “can I please pit for slicks sir” he needs to say “I’m coming in – get the slicks ready now.”

    It comes back to having that ruthless side you need in order to win championships. Going along with your team (specially if it’s a team famous for making bad calls) and then whinging about it afterwards is the behaviour of a driver who belongs in the midfield.

    Reply moderated
  10. I love Charles, he’s been my favourite driver aside from the Great Man since he joined the sport. But I expected a lot more this season. I thought this would be a coming of age year where the car would be the weak link in the team with Leclerc driving cleanly and collecting the points Alonso 2023 style. When I look at the best drivers of the past decade, they’re all comfortable clear of their team-mates. Let’s be honest, Sainz is having a shocking season yet leads Leclerc by 16 points. But for the amateur Australia mistake that could be 31.

    This can’t be good enough – needless accidents in Australia, Baku and Miami and a mistake on the slicks today. This all points to over-driving to me. Charles has been brilliant at stages, Saudi and Baku in particular. But the team have let him down in Bahrain, the knock on effect impacting Saudi, Monaco with the grid penalty and in Spain also with a clearly damaged car. The communication failures and strategy faux pas compound a really poor season – difficult to drive/set up car, driver making silly mistakes by over driving and the predictable operational shambles.

    Ferrari need a reset, again. I thought Vasseur would be able to calm Leclerc, make him see the bigger picture. Most of Leclerc’s mistakes come from impatience and going for the pole / a move when it’s not really on. Ferrari were at their best operationally under Dominicalli. Alonso fought for 2 titles despite never being favourite for pole. Leclerc needs to learn from that, build trust in the team, who would then listen to his strategy calls and build a car around his strengths more. There’s a world class driver in there, but he’s being managed horribly – both by the team and by himself.

  11. It’s quite clear that Leclerc needs to grow a pair.
    Instead of sheepishly towing the riskaverse line decided from above, drive that car into the pitlane and demand they throw softs on.
    Its hard to argue with a driver that makes it through to Q3 on his own call and very easy to blame a driver when he is towing the team line and fails to achieve.

    Reply moderated

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