Charles Leclerc says he is relieved that his team decided to change his damaged chassis during the Qatar Grand Prix weekend.
The Ferrari driver had a difficult start to the weekend in Qatar. He looked off the pace and was behind teammate Carlos Sainz in all three practice sessions. Qualifying wasn’t better for Leclerc as the Monegasque driver failed to reach Q3.
Both Charles Leclerc and Sainz were running medium compound tires during Q2 in Lusail. Still, the former was almost a second behind the Spaniard during his initial run. Even after switching to soft tires, Leclerc could only manage 13th. Sainz, on the other hand, took his car into the final Qualifying session after finishing 9th.
Charles: “Honestly I don’t know what happened. Usually I know more or less why but today not. On the first run, I was a full second away from what our competitors were doing and even what Carlos was doing on the same tyres. I have zero explanations.”#QatarGP
— tami. (@Vetteleclerc) November 20, 2021
The 24-year-old seemed confused and said, ‘he has no idea’ why he was so far off the pace. Later on Saturday evening, it was revealed that the Ferrari of Leclerc had a damaged chassis, which was affecting his performance.
The mechanics in the Maranello based team put in a wonderful job to change the damaged body. As a result, Charles did not have to take a grid penalty and was able to drive a solid race on Sunday.
Leclerc finished the race on 8th, just behind his teammate. He pitted just once in the 27th lap and spent the rest of the race gaining positions to gain valuable points for the team. Tire punctures for Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas played to the Ferrari driver’s advantage.
Charles Leclerc felt that the car had good pace on Sunday
The former Sauber driver said he was happy that he had a trouble-free race under the lights. “The feeling was much better today. Obviously, yesterday, I felt quite off, and today, the feeling was good straight away from the beginning,” Leclerc said.
“The race was a bit tricky starting from P13, being behind a group of cars, especially on the first stint. Then, on the second stint, I found a bit of free air, and we could show our pace, which was strong, even though we had to manage the tires to get to the end.
“Overall, the pace was there today. It was just a shame that we started so far back. Hopefully, the last two races will be about putting everything together, qualifying and the race.
Not the easiest of weekends, but we take another step closer to our target for 2021 💪
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) November 22, 2021
“I’m happy about the pace today, but then, obviously, not extremely happy to finish P8, as that’s not that exciting.”
Both Sainz and Leclerc finished ahead of McLaren’s Norris on Sunday. The young Briton finished 9th, whereas the other McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo finished out of the points. This increases the gap between Ferrari and the Surrey-based team to 39.5 points with just two races to go.
The Italian team should be reasonably confident about finishing P3 in the Constructor’s standings after their result in Qatar.