Ferrari star Charles Leclerc ‘not happy’ despite Japanese GP recovery with one issue to resolve

The Ferrari driver took a dim view of his P4 finish in Suzuka despite winning Driver of the Day

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Charles Leclerc admitted he has a major issue to correct before he can be satisfied with his race performances, despite pulling off an impressive recovery drive at the Formula 1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver started eighth on the grid after a torrid qualifying session on Saturday, in which he had only one run on the soft tyre following an error he made in Q1. That put him on the backfoot in the fight against the Red Bulls as the Scuderia were forced to look to strategy to help them salvage a result.

The Italian team have been criticised in the past for failing to put together a coherent strategy on Sunday when it truly matters. But to their credit, the one-stop plan worked a treat for Leclerc, who rose from eighth to fourth to claim an important haul of 12 points.

Despite his comeback, which saw him receive the Driver of the Day award for the first time this season, Leclerc chose to focus on how he needs to improve his tyre management ahead of the Chinese GP.

Charles Leclerc during 2024 Japanese GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
Charles Leclerc during 2024 Japanese GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

“If we look at the weekend as a whole I’m not happy, because if I was happy with a fourth place then I would have to stay at home,” Leclerc told the Italian press. “Qualifying yesterday didn’t go well and even in Australia I struggled to put the tires in the right window.

“Qualifying has always gone well for me, but for the past two races I’ve struggled to put the tires in the right window and I’m paying the price for this both in Australia and here, but the pace in the race is there.

“Now we have a week to work and to understand why, on my side of the garage, I can’t do the outlap well in qualifying. When we manage to put this aspect right, I’m sure we will get great satisfaction.”

Leclerc confident of quick fix

It is an unusual situation for Leclerc to find himself in, as the Monegasque would surely stake his claim as one of the most consistent qualifiers in F1. His record of 23 pole positions and just five race wins indicates his one-lap pace is better than his racecraft, but his performance in Suzuka would suggest otherwise.

It means that he has fallen behind in the drivers’ championship, with Max Verstappen moving 18 points clear of him at the top of the standings, with Sergio Perez moving ahead of him into second place.

However, Leclerc is confident that he can find a solution to his problems in the near future after explaining why he struggled in qualifying in comparison to the race.

“I feel like I’m stupid to say I was happy with my qualifying lap and then finish eighth, because I’m not like that,” Leclerc added. “The lap is good, but the grip of the tyre doesn’t give you what you expect because there are these small differences in the out lap and I have to work on this.

“Now I have to focus on that, but every time I’ve worked on something it’s improved quite quickly, so I’m not too worried.”

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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