Leclerc Describes 'Strange Feeling' That Separated Him From Better Qualifying Result

Saturday, 23 March 2024 at 20:45
charles leclerc ferrari61
After qualifying in Melbourne ended, Charles Leclerc discussed problems that hindered his ability to put his SF-24 on the front row.
The Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc finished fifth during the qualifying session ahead of the 2024 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Circuit.
This P5 marks the end of Leclerc's seven-race streak of front-row starts, which he has maintained since the 2023 United States Grand Prix in Austin.
From the outside, it looked very promising for Ferrari drivers after the three practice sessions ahead of the weekend. Leclerc took P4 in FP1 and P1 in the following two sessions. However, the Monegasque driver revealed he could feel already in FP3 that not everything was right.

"[In] FP3 already, I felt like it was going away a little bit from me, but I was confident that it would come back, the feeling, in qualifying as is normally the case whenever we have a strange feeling in FP3."

"You put on new tyres in qualifying, low fuel and everything comes alive again - today wasn't the case."

As soon as the qualifying began, it seemed Leclerc lost the pace compared to where he was in practice sessions. Nevertheless, he still wasn't doing badly, as he was fourth in Q1 and second in Q2.
However, the 26-year-old then tried to experiment with his front wing, which he suggested led to a mistake he made on his final flying lap.

"I struggled quite a lot with the front tyres, until the last run in Q3 where I went very aggressive with a front wing to try something and it went the other way. All in all, it hasn't been a clean day for me."

The number 16 driver looked the strongest in long-run race pace simulations during Free Practice sessions, but he doesn't expect to be challenging for the win on Sunday. He said:

"I think realistically, it's going to be difficult to target the win because Max is going to be too strong. Checo [Perez] might be a target. But they [Red Bull] seem to strong once again, because they have more margin than we initially thought they had [during practice]."

About two hours after the end of Qualifying, Perez received a 3-place grid penalty, which moved him behind the Monegasque driver. Leclerc will now start from P4, with Checo right behind in P5. He added:

"But all in all, my target is obviously to try and come back and be on the podium. And if that's beating Checo, then we'll try and do that."