Charles Leclerc on the Eifel GP: First stint cost me the race

( – Charles Leclerc was able to take seventh place in the Grand Prix of the Eifel. After his surprisingly strong qualifying on Saturday, Ferrari was thrown back down to earth in the race. The Monegasse had problems on the soft tires, especially in the first stint.

Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly

Charles Leclerc fought for P7 in the Eifel



“Above all, we have to understand the first stint on the soft tires. I had a lot of graining and understeer,” said Leclerc after the race. The Monegasse started from fourth place and was able to hold its own until lap nine.

But a little later the tire problems got bigger and bigger, so that he held up the competition a little. Finally Daniel Ricciardo was able to overtake him on the outside lane at Turn 2, and on lap ten Leclerc made his first pit stop.

At that point he had already lost almost 25 seconds to the top. “The first stint had a massive impact on our race”, Leclerc had to admit and even used the word “disaster”. “Of course the performance in qualifying was very good, we were strong on one lap, but we had bigger problems in the long run, especially on the soft.”

Due to the early stop, he initially fell back to the end of the field and had to work his way up again. In addition, he was unlucky that his competitors were able to stop during the virtual safety car and later during the normal safety car phase.

In the middle of the race, Leclerc dueled behind Ricciardo with Sergio Perez and the McLaren drivers before he finally pitted again on lap 35 (soft-medium-medium). While his immediate competitors put on fresh, soft tires in the SC phase, Leclerc continued on older media.

When he restarted his tires were already 14 laps old, those of the competition were four or five laps old. As a result, he lost a place against Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri. Against Nico Hülkenberg at Racing Point he was able to defend himself up to the checkered flag, he was finally 1.8 seconds ahead of the German.

“We will now analyze the data. But we do not heat the tires sufficiently for the correct pace in the race,” commented team principal Mattia Binotto. How satisfied is he with the updates that Ferrari first used at the Nürburgring?

“We didn’t expect a big difference. It was a small update and completed the package that we introduced in Russia,” said the Italian after the race on Sunday. “It is positive that the correlation with the wind tunnel in the factory was right.”

This means that Ferrari is developing the car in the right direction, said Binotto. He also announced other small updates later this season. “For us, the key to success is to develop the car further and, more importantly, to go in the right direction.”

Leclerc would have wished for a better result. Nevertheless, he also drew a positive conclusion: “I didn’t expect that we would be so competitive in cold temperatures. The car behaved well. The small updates also worked well.”

That was not a “big step”. But: “We weren’t looking for that either. It was a small step in the right direction. That’s also positive. Now we have to understand why the first stint on the soft was so affected by graining. Still, I’m quite happy with it the weekend. “

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