Leclerc has ‘full trust’ in Vasseur’s Ferrari mission
By Ian Parkes
Tuesday 23rd May, 2023 - 1:43pm
Charles Leclerc is adamant he is fully behind Fred Vasseur’s plans for Ferrari despite a difficult start to his reign as the new Scuderia boss.
Vasseur took over in early January from Mattia Binotto after the Italian resigned from the role at the end of last year despite Ferrari and Leclerc finishing second in both the constructors’ and drivers’ championships.
Binotto, however, was undermined last term by a lack of reliability from the car and strategic failings on the pit wall, both of which he was directly responsible for, which ultimately led to his downfall.
Ferrari turned to Vasseur given his welter of motorsport experience, most recently his leadership of Alfa Romeo, but the Frenchman has found his first few months tricky to navigate.
Vasseur has, in particular, inherited a car developed and built under Binotto’s leadership that has at least challenged Red Bull during qualifying, but been found wanting during a grand prix due to suffering high degradation of its tyres.
With a relationship between Leclerc and Vasseur that goes back to the Monégasque driver’s GP3 title-winning days when the latter ran ART Grand Prix, the 25-year-old has complete faith in what he can see is trying to be achieved.
“He’s just starting this process now,” said Leclerc. “Until now he has basically been trying to analyse the situation as quickly as possible in order to do the best changes possible for the future.
“I think the big part of the job will be done from now on so we will see, but obviously, I speak a lot with Fred and I know what are his middle- and long-term plans for the team.
“I’m completely behind him and I trust him fully. I’m sure these are the right choices and it goes in the right direction for the team. So for that, I’m looking forward to it. But let’s wait and see.”
Leclerc’s home tale of woe
Following the cancellation of the recent Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola due to the flooding in the region that has cost lives, Leclerc heads into his home race looking to put behind him a horrific record.
Stretching back to his debut in 2017 when he was racing in F2, after qualifying on pole and comfortably leading the early stages of the race, Leclerc suffered a suspension issue that forced retirement after 26 of the 41 laps, before an electrical problem curtailed his sprint race.
On his F1 debut with Sauber the following year, the left-front brake disc failed on Leclerc’s car on lap 70 of 78, sending him into the back of then-Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley.
In his first year with Ferrari, the team made a strategic error that resulted in Leclerc being eliminated from Q1. In the race, he was forced to eventually retire from damage to his car sustained after clipping the wall and puncturing a tyre as he attempted to overtake Nico Hulkenberg, then with Renault.
After Monaco was dropped from the calendar in 2020 due to Covid-19, a year later, Leclerc qualified on pole but crashed in the closing stages of Q3. Although the car was checked and cleared, it suffered a driveshaft failure on the reconnaissance lap to the grid, preventing him from taking part in the race.
Leclerc again qualified on pole last year but in a chaotic race due to the weather, Ferrari again failed strategically, leading to the home hero to angrily finish fourth.
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