Charles Leclerc not happy as Ferrari star explains Lando Norris collision

The Monegasque qualified fifth for Sunday's race and was not entirely satisfied with the performance of his car

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Charles Leclerc was not happy with the pace of his Ferrari car after a below-par Saturday which began with a collision between Leclerc and Norris, then ended with a poor qualifying performance at the Formula 1 2024 Spanish Grand Prix,

Leclerc will start from fifth on the grid after he was four tenths off the polesitter Lando Norris, with the Monegasque starting both Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. Unsurprisingly, he declared himself unhappy with the car – and not for the first time this season.

Despite looking to be in contention for pole in Q1 and Q2, the Scuderia lacked the pace in the top-10 shootout when it truly mattered and find themselves planted on the third row, with a mammoth task to catch the likes of Norris and Max Verstappen.

It came after Ferrari brought significant upgrades to the track, but Leclerc admitted he never felt comfortable with the balance of the SF-24 throughout Friday and Saturday’s sessions and spoke of his “disappointment” with the pace of his Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc during the 2024 Australian GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
Charles Leclerc starts fifth in Sunday’s Spanish GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

“I’m happy in a way of the progress with the feeling that I’ve had from yesterday to today, which I think will pay off in the race,” Leclerc told the written press in Barcelona, including Total-Motorsport.com.

“But I’m not happy and I’m disappointed with the pace of the car today in qualifying because we are further away than what we had anticipated.”

Leclerc speaks out on Norris clash

Leclerc opened up on the troubles he faced in free practice as he experimented with different setups, which also included a controversial incident with Norris for which he received a reprimand from the stewards.

“I’ve had a very difficult time until quali really, where until FP3 I would say. FP1 and FP2 was extremely difficult for me,” Leclerc added.

“In FP1, we had the old package. We had to obviously do the comparison between the two cars, which was needed. But on a track like Barcelona, when you lose two sets of tyres, it’s difficult because you only have one lap there and then you lose six or seven tenths on the second time lapse.

“So it was a bit late to get into the rhythm in FP2. In FP2, the car felt really out of place in the balance… I was really struggling today. We changed basically not everything, but a lot of things in the car. In FP3, I felt straight away much more at ease. However, the pace is just not there.

Responding to a question quizzing him on whether he deliberately collided with Norris, Leclerc replied: “The version is very simple. Lando exited the pit lane and I was behind on a push lap. Then when he aborted, I also aborted and I braked to be alongside him.

“I misjudged, so I was on the right and I didn’t want to impede either the cars behind. So I was a bit in the middle by being frustrated and looking in the mirrors to try and not impede, and then we collided. But it was more misunderstanding more than anything.”

Norris shocked by lack of Leclerc punishment

After securing pole position for the 2024 Spanish GP, Lando Norris was seen talking to Max Verstappen, who qualified second in Barcelona, about the punishment, or lack thereof, handed out to Leclerc for the FP3 collision.

As they got out their respective McLaren and Red Bull cars, the conversation went as follows:

  • Max: “It’s quite crazy he (Charles) got a reprimand”
  • Lando: “That’s what he got?!”
  • Max: “Yeah, only a reprimand!”
  • Lando: (confused look) “My whole front wing was f**cked”
  • Max: “I know yeah, crazy”
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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