Charles Leclerc happy to silence critics after shaking off Ferrari qualifying woes

The Monegasque recovered from a disappointing display in China to put himself on the front row for the 19-lap F1 Sprint at the 2024 Miami GP

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Charles Leclerc was delighted to hit back at his critics after an improved F1 Sprint qualifying performance on Friday at the Formula 1 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

The Ferrari star will start alongside championship leader Max Verstappen on the front row in second place, after putting his recent woes behind him to qualify ahead of Sergio Perez before Saturday’s 19-lap sprint to the checkered flag.

It represents a vast improvement on his last two qualifying results at the Chinese GP, where Leclerc struggled to find pace in the SF-24 and could only manage sixth and seventh in Shanghai in the sprint shootout and race qualifying sessions respectively.

Throughout his career, Leclerc has established himself as a one-lap specialist with 23 pole positions for Ferrari, albeit with just five race victories to his name. But the 26-year-old was pleased to be back in form in qualifying after admitting he had fallen short of his critics’ standards.

“I’m happy because there is so much talk now and you are as good as your last race in this sport,” Leclerc told F1 TV. “When you have two races in a row, where you are bad in qualifying and I haven’t done a great job, people start to talk.

“So it’s good to stop that. Now we need to work on the consistency and try to stay at that level and put the tyres consistently in the right window as I’ve done in the past.”

Leclerc puts in the work

It appeared that Leclerc would be in for a difficult afternoon in Miami after spinning during the only free practice session of the weekend, which left him unable to turn his car around on the narrow track.

However, the Scuderia driver was pleased that his hard work on tyre management helped him pull together a fine lap to clinch second.

“I did one lap in FP1, so had to go into qualifying and go flat out straight away,” Leclerc added. “We only had one set of tyres in SQ1, so it was very tricky but straight away I felt the feeling and the hard work I’ve done earlier in the season, to put the tyres in the right window, have paid off.”

Sergio Perez of Red Bull leads Charles Leclerc of Ferrari during the Sprint ahead of 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Charles Leclerc endured a difficult Chinese GP. | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Asked about his chances of winning the sprint race, Leclerc conceded his error didn’t give them enough data to assess if they can match the Red Bulls. But he insisted he is still hoping to record his first race win since Austria in 2022.

“I did one lap again, so I have no idea about our race pace,” the Monegasque added. “But I really hope we can have a good sprint and and have a good race pace to have hope for the win on Sunday.”

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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