Charles Leclerc: Fastest driver in F1

Charles Leclerc has conceded he needs to improve his qualifying displays after recovering to finish fourth at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Leclerc was out-qualified by teammate Carlos Sainz for a second consecutive race.

Charles Leclerc Reaction on Where he needs to improve – Japanese GP 2024

Throughout his career, qualifying has been a strength of Leclerc’s, with many pundits describing him as the ‘fastest driver in F1’ due to his blistering one-lap pace.

However, below par performances in qualifying recently has meant he’s missed out on a potential victory in Australia and now podium in Japan.

F1’s hottest: Binned Carlos Sainz lands another punch on Charles Leclerc

When Ferrari thought up their ideal plan for 2024, the driver they discarded becoming the second most in-form on the grid would not have been on it.

Carlos Sainz has been in inspired form so far in 2024, so much so that even his own exploding appendix could hardly stop him.

Another podium in Japan and another performance that demonstrated extreme confidence in his own abilities, the Ferrari man was the last of the front runners to pit for a third time and yet when he emerged much further down the order, there was never any real doubt that he would be rising up it in the very near future.

That was even evident to Charles Leclerc and his race engineer.

In Leclerc’s defence, he drove an excellent race of his own, the only driver on an effective one-stopper to finish in the points, but there was little he could do to stop Sainz from passing.

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Leclerc gets your vote with faultless P4 drive in Japan

Differing strategies may have put him behind his team mate, but Charles Leclerc drove an impeccable race for Ferrari at Suzuka, coming from eighth on the grid to finish fourth at the flag, even briefly leading the Grand Prix.

You duly recognised the Monegasque driver’s superb performance.

Here’s how the voting broke down:

  • Charles Leclerc – 23.8%
  • Yuki Tsunoda – 17.7%
  • Carlos Sainz – 14.6%
  • Sergio Perez – 8.3%
  • Lando Norris – 8%

Leclerc said the tyre preparation before a flying lap hampered his chances which makes the race more difficult.

Leclerc couldn’t improve on eighth in qualifying on Saturday, and said the tyre preparation before a flying lap hampered his chances which makes the race more difficult.

“As I said yesterday, I was happy with the lap but I just didn’t have enough grip available,” he told Sky Sports. “

This is mostly coming from the track time to get the tyres in the right window and from that moment it puts us in a very difficult situation for the rest of the weekend because starting eighth you cannot do much more.

“We did an amazing tyre strategy, amazing tyre management and amazing pace but it’s just not enough when you’re starting eighth.

“It’s not very often in my career that I had to focus on qualifying days because this normally is one of my strengths.

But Australia and here, this is where I’ve been struggling so I’ll focus on that. But normally when I work on something I get better quite quickly, so I’m confident.”

Leclerc admitted the Red Bull team are “too far ahead” but is optimistic Ferrari could close the gap with some upgrades.

Ferrari had done well?

Team boss Frederic Vasseur said Ferrari had done well to bounce back from their disappointing showing in the final practice session and qualifying.

“We had a very strong Sunday with a good strategy and we were able to come back and if we want to do a better weekend, we’ll have to improve the Saturdays,” Vasseur added.

“We made a good step with the car during the winter, even the last part of last year, but everybody’s much more confident in the team, much more calm and we are doing a good job together.”