Charles Leclerc reveals secret to quick lap in Saudi Arabia

Charles Leclerc started second in Bahrain and will be hoping to go one better at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

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After his strong qualifying performance in Bahrain last week, which saw the Ferrari driver start the race from second on the grid, Charles Leclerc will be hoping to take pole position for Saturday’s 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and disclosed the key to doing so.

The Ferrari doesn’t think the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is much different to the other tracks on the Formula 1 calendar — but that drivers should strive for maximum precision.

“I guess being precise,” Leclerc told the press, when asked what the secret to being fast in Jeddah is.

“The only thing that is different here is that the walls are pretty close and it’s also reliant on how much a driver is taking risk and how close to the limits you are going to get.

“Because whenever you overstep it, then that’s it. That’s the end of the session. But it’s something that I really enjoy. City tracks are definitely my favourites, at least for the qualifying lap. It always makes things exciting.” 

Setting the perfect lap

Leclerc has typically gone well around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. He was embroiled in the fight for pole position in 2022, losing out to Red Bull’s Sergio Perez by a mere 0.025s. 

The Monegasque put up another strong fight for pole in 2023, falling short to Perez yet again with a lap time just over a tenth slower than that of Perez. Leclerc, however, was forced to start from P12, after an engine replacement saw him take a grid penalty. 

For Leclerc, preparing for qualifying at a city circuit differs to that at a traditional race circuit. Leclerc shared that, when it comes to city circuits, it’s a case of building up to his best lap over the course of the race weekend.

Charles Leclerc gets to grips with the Ferrari SF-24 in 2024 F1 pre-season testing on the Bahrain International Circuit | Florent Gooden/DPPI / Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
Charles Leclerc gets to grips with the Ferrari SF-24 in 2024 F1 pre-season testing on the Bahrain International Circuit | Florent Gooden/DPPI / Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

“You have to go through that step-by-step approach, like on every city track, because whenever you go over the limits, very often that ends up in the wall,” continued Leclerc. “And that’s not what you want on a city track.

“With the track evolution that is always bigger [at city circuits], the more laps you do the more track evolution you feel, and the more you can put the car in the right window for qualifying and for that lap in Q3. So every lap is important and that approach is needed.”

Jasmine Hughes
Jasmine Hughes
Experienced in digital content creation, Jasmine Hughes has written for a number of online publications, joining Total Motorsports in 2024. She previously served as FormulaNerds' Formula E Editor, leading coverage of the 2023 Formula E season. Jasmine has been watching Formula 1 since the age of 4, after falling in love with Fernando Alonso's blue-yellow Renault R25.
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