Leclerc warned to keep Ferrari out of repair shop

Charles Leclerc gave the Ferrari repair shop a busy weekend in Miami with two crashes

Charles Leclerc gave the Ferrari repair shop a busy weekend in Miami with two crashes

Former F1 racer Martin Brundle feels it is incumbent on Charles Leclerc to prove himself a leader rather than keeping Ferrari’s repair shop so busy.

Leclerc was involved in a couple of crashes during grands prix last season that were a contributing factor in him missing out on a first F1 drivers’ championship.

This season, Leclerc was initially involved in a first-lap collision with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll during the Australian Grand Prix that forced him into the gravel and out of the race.

In Miami over the weekend, the Monégasque driver initially ploughed nose first into a barrier at Turn 7 during second practice, and followed that with another crash during qualifying at the same corner, damaging the floor.

During the race, in which Leclerc trailed home a distant seventh after starting from the same grid slot, he complained of a very inconsistent car, potentially as a consequence of Saturday’s incident.

Brundle, who competed in 158 grands prix and is a co-commentator for the Sky Sports F1 team in the UK, said: “Ferrari are struggling for race pace and a distant fifth and seventh was a poor result for them.

“Leclerc must stop crashing his car, it’s holding him and the team back. There are always knock-on effects during a race weekend from those incidents, and he needed a new aero underfloor after the qualifying crash which may have contributed to the bouncing and issues he reported in the race.

“He is unbelievably fast and committed, and he can afford to trade a fraction of that to build a better race weekend, and so a better season. He must lead the team to higher things and not keep the repair shop so busy.”

Red Bull speed “simply irresistible”

In contrast, Red Bull is looking unbeatable this season, with its one-two in Miami its fourth of a dominant campaign.

Red Bull was fast out of the blocks when new aerodynamic regulations kicked in at the start of last year, and other teams have so far failed to catch up.

The DRS on the RB19 has also become much vaunted, and with the FIA opting to shorten the DRS zones at circuits this year, that is also playing into Red Bull’s hands.

“With the DRS rear wing open the Red Bull is fundamentally much faster in top speed than the other nine teams, so much so that I suspect that wherever they start on the grid, and given no outside factors, they can finish one-two,” assessed Brundle.

“Their speed is simply irresistible and that’s where the other teams must focus. It won’t be easy, that’s an overall car design philosophy rather than an update, and even then, only after they’ve understood what Red Bull is doing to dump so much drag.

“A cautious Verstappen even lost a place on the opening lap, dropping to 10th, fully aware that he’d cruise past the pack in relatively short order as soon as DRS was enabled, and using his prodigious, metronomic speed and tyre management thereafter.

“Of course, I’d rather there were at least two teams fighting for the victories, that would be much better, but believe me when I say that Murray Walker and I would have killed for that much race action 25 years ago in the commentary box on many occasions.

“That doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t focus on improving the racing and I am concerned that the 2023 cars, loaded with ever more downforce, are not helping in that respect.

“The Red Bull DRS success creates another fundamental issue in that they simply breeze past the opposition as I’ve described above, but shortening the length of the DRS zones (based on 2022 data) is not helping the rest of the field make passes.

“Quite a dilemma but nothing the FIA can really do there, the other teams simply must catch up.”

F1 returns to Europe for its next race, with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on May 19-21 spearheading a triple-header that is followed by Monaco and Barcelona.

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