Charles Leclerc promptly dismissed notions hinting at a possible shift from his current position in Formula 1.
The distinguished driver from Monaco had a particularly subdued showing at Zandvoort, with Ferrari’s momentum seeming to decline even further.
“Williams, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, Aston Martin, they’re all quicker than us here,” his teammate Carlos Sainz admitted.
Though many highlighted Leclerc’s off-performance, whispers suggested an ear infection during the summer break – which led him to drive rather than fly to the Netherlands – might have played a part.
The team highlighted that the 25-year-old, after a mishap in qualifying, faced early race complications which compromised his race speed.
“I hope they found the reason and it really was the floor, otherwise it looks even worse for Leclerc,” said former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher.
Currently, discussions with both Leclerc and Sainz regarding the extension of their racing contracts through 2024 are on hold by team boss Frederic Vasseur.
“It seems to me that Leclerc is driving very listlessly,” F1 legend Niki Lauda’s son Mathias told Servus TV.
“Like when Russell overtook him – normally it’s not so easy to be surprised in corners where it’s difficult to overtake. After that, he hardly put up a fight against Bottas either.”
While Ferrari emphasized vehicular damages, many are perplexed about Leclerc’s recent form.
“How is this happening to a top driver like that?” 1996 world champion Damon Hill is quoted by f1-insider.com.
The increasing perception is that Leclerc might be losing his drive, operating a vehicle that barely seems podium-worthy.
“We’re beginning to understand what the problem is,” Sainz commented after clinching a commendable fifth position. “But there’s very little room to change anything now. The car is built and the development is pretty much done. So we have to tackle it for next year.”
However, when Sky Deutschland posed the question about Leclerc’s potential need for a change in team, he answered: “That is not the question now.
“We have to focus and improve as a team,” Leclerc said. “Then we’ll see. But as I have always said, I love Ferrari and my main goal is to win the world championship with the team and I will do everything to achieve it.”