Leclerc supports decision to delay start of Sprint

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Charles Leclerc believes the decision to conduct five formation laps behind the safety car before commencing green flag racing in Saturday’s F1 sprint at Spa Francorchamps was right.

After completing five formation laps behind the safety car, the field dived into the pits for intermediate tyres, with Leclerc coming in a lap later than teammate Carlos Sainz as Ferrari split their strategy. 

With the pitlane crowded, Leclerc was held in the pits rejoining behind Sainz on his way to finishing sixth, which later became fifth after Lewis Hamilton picked up a five-second penalty for contact with Sergio Perez.

“I understood that we were waiting mostly for the guys in the back that didn’t have any visibility,” said Leclerc to the media after the Sprint. “I think that was the right thing to do.

“We are prepared for these kinds of situations. We were kind of expecting it when we are stopping so early in a race. My engineers said ‘traffic traffic’, and I stayed on the right.

“Then I also realised there was a Williams [on the outside], so I let him go, it always looked very close, but I was aware.”

SPA, BELGIUM – JULY 29: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on July 29, 2023 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202307290449 // Usage for editorial use only //

Slow pitstops need to be looked into 

Although traffic in the pits caused headaches for several teams, Ferrari struggled again with pitstops after both drivers lost ground to Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Hamilton during the stops.

Ferrari’s pitstops have cost Leclerc track position for the second consecutive weekend. In Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Leclerc lost time during his second stop because of an apparent wheel gun issue. 

“I think we [made] the right choice,” said Leclerc. We would have lost too much time if I was pitting behind Carlos, so I had no choice it is the way it is.

“But what hurt us even more is a slow pitstop, and we need to look into it because it’s two races where we are struggling a bit more with pit stops.

“It has to become one of our priorities [to fix] in order to [get maximum] points.”

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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