Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023

Leclerc “more calm” after Ferrari explained why it overruled call for slicks – Vasseur

2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said Charles Leclerc was “much more calm” after they explained their reasons for a strategy call he disagreed with during qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Leclerc failed to make the cut for Q3 on the damp but drying track. After starting the session on intermediate tyres Leclerc told the team he wanted to follow Alexander Albon and others who switched to slicks.

However Ferrari kept Leclerc on track, not wishing to miss the opportunity of setting a lap time as early as possible while the track was drying out. Although Leclerc ended up completing more laps than the vast majority of drivers in Q2, he was not able to get up to speed quickly enough and missed out on making Q3 by 0.189 seconds.

He voiced his annoyance about the situation over his radio and then to media afterwards, saying “I think we are just making our life way too difficult” and that he was “frustrated” by the fact he “had a clear opinion and we decided to do something else.”

Vasseur said Leclerc understood the reason for the team’s decision after speaking to them afterwards. “You can always do a better job, but it’s true also that the picture that you have 10 seconds after the quali is not always the best one,” he said.

“We had a good discussion with Charles after your discussion with him, we gave him the global picture of the situation, what’s happened during the session and he was much more calm.”

“I think the confusion came from the fact that perhaps he didn’t get the global picture of the quali,” Vasseur continued. “So we have probably to improve some area that he has to put himself in our shoes sometimes.”

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Vasseur admitted the team “can’t say that we did a good job” in qualifying. “I think the pace was mega and we finished 10 and 11 [on the grid]. That means that something went wrong.”

Leclerc and Sainz took fourth and fifth on Sunday
However hew defended Ferrari’s strategy, despite Leclerc being “crystal clear” over the radio that he wanted slicks.

“It was not our choice [to switch early for slicks] because at this stage the rain was coming and we wanted to put a lap on the board as soon as possible. If you pit at the end of the lap one to put a set of soft then you have two laps to warm up the tyres and you postpone your first flying lap for five minutes. It was not the strategy at this stage.”

Ferrari is holding a follow-up meeting today to discuss how “to fix” its management of such calls in the future. Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr both gained six places in the race to finish inside the top 10, but Vasseur isn’t considering what might have been had they started higher up.

“I don’t know and I don’t want to race with ‘if, if, if’,” he said. “It is like it is. Now we have to think about what happened [in qualifying].”

“I don’t want to race with ‘if’ because with this kind of attitude, everybody is world champion,” he added.

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2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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22 comments on “Leclerc “more calm” after Ferrari explained why it overruled call for slicks – Vasseur”

  1. I think the confusion came from the fact that perhaps he didn’t get the global picture of the quali,” Vasseur continued. “So we have probably to improve some area that he has to put himself in our shoes sometimes.

    The problem is, Charles was right and everyone up and down the paddock saw the same thing as Charles. The “global picture” in the Ferrari pit wall seems to be far too often their own little world and not the world the rest of the event is living in.

    1. Albon was right, but everybody was gambling. The rain coming back a bit earlier would mean no lap for all pitting to slick and auto advancement to Q3 for Ferrari.
      It’s easy to say ferrari made wrong choice in hindsight, but both could be at the time depending on the evolution.

      What I don’t understand is so many teams not splitting strategies. It feels like they are so conservative nowadays probably to avoid any favoritism but I think they miss on opportunities…

      1. Charles was right and everyone up and down the paddock saw the same thing as Charles.

        But everyone up and down the paddock (except Albon) did the same strategy as Ferrari. One banker on the inter, then onto slicks.

        After the banker, Charles was fifth. He was on slicks before almost everyone else. Then after him, in worsening conditions, 6 people jumped him including his teammate and Hulk in a worse cqr

        1. In a worse car. The strategy was solid, Leclerc’s driving wasn’t.

          1. Agree with this and also with vasseur’s explanation: ferrari’s strategy wasn’t that bad this time, it was reasonable to get a banker lap and everyone else apart from albon did that.

      2. @jeanrien this was my thoughts on the matter, why not throw the dice on strategy and split your cars when there is a chance. That being said I still think the main person to blame on not getting through was Leclerc.

    2. Charles was right

      A driver might have excellent intuition regarding current track conditions.

      He has zero intuition regarding incoming weather.

      Vasseur is perfectly right: had the rain come during those first 3 laps, Albon’s quali would have been over. He went through in 1st place, but with the rain arriving a bit earlier, he might have been dead last.

      A backmarker can afford that sort of gamble, a top team cannot.

      Ferrari (perfectly reasonably) put Leclerc on the safe strategy. It was not a sub-optimal strategy; it was the strategy the majority of teams/drivers opted for.

      It is fully on Leclerc that he could achieve less with that strategy than half the field.

      1. Have to say williams often make these sort of gambles and they often pay off, obviously more chance of it happening when you’re a backmarker.

      2. And yes, important to emphasize the difference with brazil 2022: that time leclerc was the only one on intermediates on a dry track, while this time he had the same strategy as everyone but albon.

      3. Ferrari is not a top team, competitively speaking. They are currently a well funded midfield team and they can benefit from making the most of rare opportunities to exploit changing track conditions.

        It makes no sense to approach the races as if the team is fighting for the title if they can’t even win a race (and yes, Räikkönen almost did just that in 2003).

  2. Konstantinos
    20th June 2023, 13:50

    Frederic: “Hey Charles, you really need to be better and put yourself in our shoes more for us to improve. I mean, what we’re you thinking?”
    Charles: “Hey thanks Frederic, I feel so much calmer now, go team!”

  3. Robert Henning
    20th June 2023, 15:40

    Ferrari’s choice was correct.

    This is a recurring theme with Leclerc and damp/wet conditions.

    He just can’t get them tires to work, and blamed it all on the team.

    Ferrari had a good race car and could have had an easy podium if he had more talent.

    1. mohit anand
      20th June 2023, 21:05

      he has enough talent while he could have done a better job definitely also face traffic during tyre warmup lap and maybe distracted due to pit wall not being clear

  4. What Vasseur says could had been right if Ferrari was 1st or 2nd in the championship and the risk for changing to sliks was big.
    The problem is that is not in that position and they need to risk a bit to gain something back.
    I don’t know but something is not right and is getting worse when they make their No1 driver feeling like the crazy of the village.

    1. they need to risk a bit

      We are talking about Q2, for heaven’s sake.

      Even if they are a team that is not “1st or 2nd in the championship”, they should not need to risk anything at this stage of qualifying.

      1. Agree, the only ones that need to risk in q1 are the ones that on normal pace can’t usually make it to q2, then the same applies in q2 for those who can’t make it to q3; ferrari, while bad (they seem to be the 4th team on pace atm, so worse than every recent year except 2020), shouldn’t have a getting into q3 problem, so no need to risk except in q3.

      2. A q2 that charles got KO’d in. So there is something to say for charles not wanting to do a bankerlap that wouldnt get him to q3 anyways and try to do it woth slicks that might

        1. not wanting to do a bankerlap that wouldnt get him to q3 anyways

          This point of view only makes sense if Leclerc assumed he would not be able to do a top 10 time in a Ferrari in the same (tyre+track) conditions as almost everyone else.

          But if that is true then Leclerc either thinks Ferrari is a lower-midfield car to begin with, or was only too aware of his own limitations given the circumstances.

  5. All valid points above, but why aren’t Ferrari communicating that “global view” better to their drivers?

    Why not a simple message as they head out for the session: “we can see more rain on the way, everyone bar Albon is on inters, we want to set a banker lap and can then reassess tyres”?

  6. I think both Leclerc and Ferrari were sub optimal in quali. Leclerc’s banker on inters wasn’t good enough.. and Ferrari didn’t keep a close enough look on track conditions and Albon’s sector times before denying Leclerc’s request to box for slicks. The decision to abondon the inter run and put on slicks was a good one by Leclerc, but the team was playing it sage because Charles’ banker lap. wasn’t good enough.

    Reply moderated
  7. Sports is not a math problem, psychology is a huge part of it. Leclerc ended up on the ‘wrong’ tyres, was ‘ignored’ by his team, and put in a performance that we all know was sub-par, because if anyone can qualify; it’s Leclerc. If there is no trust, no confidence, a team can have all the weather data in the world and it won’t matter.

    What’s concerning is that this is not a new problem for Ferrari. There doesn’t seem to be a good match between the drivers and their race engineers. They could benefit from reading that long interview with Mercedes’ Bonnington from a while back. Or just call their old friend Ross Brawn.

  8. This issue is bigger than this one call during Quali and who was right and who was wrong. The real problem Ferrari have is that they’ve blown the strategy and had so many mistakes, that neither driver instinctively trusts certain elements of the team. Thus, their reactions based on recent experiences is to question the team and question again. I’m sure that they are being encouraged by past drivers like Seb, and Alonso for example as well as their own personal management teams to speak up and do it often. I agree that the drivers have made their fair share of mistakes as well, but how much of that is the result of trying to do to much in an attempt to overcome their mistrust of the team? Ferrari need consistency and more consistency, but as a life long Scuderia fan, I’ve been waiting for it for years. I’ll keep waiting!

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