Leclerc baffled by strange Ferrari

Charles Leclerc endured his worst qualifying for four years due to a strange Ferrari

Charles Leclerc endured his worst qualifying for four years due to a strange Ferrari

Charles Leclerc was left baffled by a “strange” Ferrari that saw him suffer his worst qualifying performance for four years.

Leclerc qualified 19th on the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya after his SF-23 encountered an issue in turning into the left-hand corners.

It resulted in Leclerc exiting Q1 for the first time since his home race in Monaco in 2019.

Given the issues experienced by Leclerc, it means Ferrari is almost certainly going to have to investigate under parc fermé conditions. If so, the 25-year-old will start from the pit lane.

Explaining what he experienced, Leclerc said: “We’ll have to check the data but most of all check the car because there was definitely something strange.

“I nearly lost it during the red flag (in Q1 for gravel on the track) and I was at 70kph and there was just no warning.

“The left-hand corners were really, really bad with the rear-right (tyre), and I first thought that it was the tyre.

“So we went for a new set of tyres, and on the new set of tyres, it was exactly the same feeling – right-hand corners were really good, left-hand corners completely off.

“So we’ll have to check it out but I will be very, very surprised if we don’t find something on the car.”

With the issues Leclerc experienced with his car, he was further hindered by being called to the weighbridge with just over four minutes remaining in Q1.

There was still time for a new set of tyres to be fitted and for Leclerc to post another timed lap but he was clearly compromised by his car.

“I don’t think it will have made it any bit better (if he had avoided the weighbridge),” assessed Leclerc. “We were just completely slow.

“I was not even that surprised when they told me I was out of Q1. I was very surprised by the feeling, which is why I said ‘Unbelievable!’. But when they told me I was out of Q1, with the car I had, I was not that surprised.”

Asked by Speedcafe whether he felt the issue with the car was mechanical or to do with the aero, Leclerc replied: “I think mechanical because it wasn’t linear.

“Our (upgrade) package is the new one (placed on the car on Friday) and it worked really well. So I don’t think it is aero.”

Despite his starting position, Leclerc has still not ruled out the possibility of scoring points via a top-10 finish.

“It’s going to be an uphill weekend, to be honest,” assessed Leclerc. “But on the other hand, it’s a track where I think we’ll see quite a few stops.

“Degradation is going to be a big thing so if we do a good job on that, we’ve got our chances.”

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