Leclerc: Disappointing Spanish GP ‘in line with the rest of the year’
By Mat Coch
Monday 5th June, 2023 - 8:15am
Charles Leclerc has admitted the struggles he endured during the Spanish GP were indicative of a tough season, which has proved an even greater challenge than expected.
The Monegasque started from the pit lane on Sunday after the team opted to change the rear end of his car, before finishing 11th.
Leclerc complained of being unable to turn left in qualifying, prompting his early exit and Ferrari to make changes to his SF-23.
As it was under parc ferme conditions, it necessitated a pit lane start – a comparatively small sacrifice given he’d qualified 19th.
While that problem was resolved, and investigations continue into its root cause, Leclerc then battled an inconsistent car throughout the grand prix.
He started the race on the hard compound tyres, “which we expected to be a good tyre,” Leclerc noted.
“But for some reason, it was so bad. Like, no grip at all, especially from the front.
“The limitations were completely different to qualifying.
“Today we were more expecting this, but then for some reason, the second [set of hard tyres], I just do exactly the same and it feels really good.”
The experience left Leclerc confused as to how to get the tyres in the right window and follows similar complaints in Saudi Arabia and Miami.
“We seem to never really get in the right window of the tyre,” he said on Sunday in Spain.
“When we do, it’s a bit of a surprise to us.”
The problem is one of graining, which generates understeer, changes the balance of the car and costs lap time.
Only it’s not consistent from tyreset to tyreset or compound to compound.
Such have been Ferrari’s woes this season, Leclerc sits only seventh in the drivers’ standings with 42 points from seven races, 128 down on points leader Max Verstappen – a competition he led heading into last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
“To be honest, we are struggling more than what I expected,” he confessed of 2023 to date.
He added: “We’ve had quite a few disappointing days this year so unfortunately, it’s just in line with the rest of the year.”