Charles Leclerc vents frustration after Ferrari sprint qualifying failure

The Ferrari driver struggled in a rain-hit qualifying session for the F1 Sprint race in China

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Charles Leclerc has lamented his latest error in qualifying after the Ferrari driver experienced a frightening near-miss ahead of the F1 Sprint race at the Formula 1 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

As one of F1’s quickest drivers over a singled time lap, Leclerc would have been one of the drivers tipped to rival Max Verstappen for pole position in Shanghai. That proved to be the case in SQ2, where he was the best of the non-Red Bulls in SQ2 as they moved towards the top-10 shootout.

But a heavy downpour in the Far East forced the drivers onto the wet weather tyres, wreaking havoc for those trying to warm up their cold intermediates and Leclerc in particular, as he could only qualify in seventh place.

The Scuderia star was fortunate to escape significant damage to his Ferrari SF-24 after spinning off the gravel and into the barrier. The Monegasque was able to sustain his momentum and keep the car running, but he was disappointed with how his mistakes cost him in qualifying again after a sloppy performance in Japan last time out.

Charles Leclerc during 2024 Japanese GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
Charles Leclerc qualified seventh for the F1 Sprint in China. | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

“To be honest, the very first outlap was extremely tricky. It was very difficult to switch on the tyres,” Leclerc said to F1 TV after the session. “I tried to be a bit aggressive but obviously I lost it out of Turn 8 and that compromised a little bit our quali because then the straight was a little bit bent.

“But all in all, I don’t think there was any miracles. There wasn’t much more we could have done. Obviously on my side again, I didn’t maximise qualifying, which I’m not happy with.”

Leclerc finds positives

Leclerc’s mistakes ultimately cost him a chance of competing for pole and he will start from P7 on the grid on for Saturday’s 19-lap sprint race, meaning he only stands an outside chance of standing on the podium.

But in dry conditions, the Ferrari has looked the closest challenger to Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the Red Bull, and with only a 20 per cent chance of rain for Sunday’s race – as predicted by Formula 1’s official weather forecast – he is confident his work in FP1 will pay off.

“If I have to look at the positives, I think on the dry I did some big steps forwards,” Leclerc added.

“And on that I’m happy because I’ve been working a lot on the on the preparation of the tyres on the dry, and it seems to be paying off for for today at least. But let’s see tomorrow, the race will be long.”

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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