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Charles Leclerc shows true colours with surprising Sainz admission

The Monegasque driver gave a candid assessment of his performance compared to Sainz's.

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Charles Leclerc has admitted his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz has outperformed him so far this season, but vowed to improve his own performance at the Formula 1 2024 Chinese Grand Prix this weekend.

Sainz ended Max Verstappen’s run of nine straight victories with his third race win in Scuderia overalls at the Australian GP, adding to podium finishes in Bahrain and Japan to mark a fine start to the campaign.

The Spaniard has looked more hungry ever since it was announced he would be replaced by Lewis Hamilton for the 2025 season, as he aims to impress other teams with a view to earning a drive.

His surprising consistency has raised questions about Ferrari’s decision to ditch him, causing some tension within the team.

Charles Leclerc during the 2024 Australian GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
Charles Leclerc has struggled to match Sainz| Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

And Leclerc gave a refreshingly honest assessment of Sainz’s form, which has left him feeling second-best in the SF-24 after four races.

“He [Sainz] is doing a better job. In Bahrain, it was difficult to compare because on my side, I was facing issues and I think it was a very strong weekend apart from that,” Leclerc said, speaking to the press in Shanghai.

“However, in the last two races he’s just been stronger, so it’s up to me now to work, especially in the qualifying pace, which is normally a strength.”

Leclerc points to qualifying woes

So often the quickest of the pair in qualifying, Leclerc’s recent struggles to hook up a lap have seen him start further down the grid.

He started fifth in Melbourne and then could only manage eighth in Suzuka, which hampered his progress during the race as he came home in fourth.

But the 26-year-old is confident he the tools to rectify his errors after identifying where he has gone wrong.

“I’ve been struggling to put the lap together. It’s a very fine line to get it right or completely wrong on the out lap and putting the tyres in the right window,” Leclerc added.

“For now, I have been struggling more than what Carlos has done and he’s driving at a very high level, which I think is great for the team and is great for me as well.

“I have been working a lot on that. Normally when I work on points, I’m quite confident of improving pretty quickly, so I’m not worried but obviously now I need to show that on track and starting from tomorrow in qualifying.”

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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