Vasseur Confident Leclerc Will Bounce Back After Japan Setback

Ferrari’s chief, Fred Vasseur, has dismissed claims that Charles Leclerc is facing challenges during qualifying sessions.

Under the leadership of Frederic Vasseur, Ferrari remains unfazed by Charles Leclerc’s recent qualifying results.

During the Japanese Grand Prix, Leclerc found himself overshadowed in qualifying by teammate Carlos Sainz for the second time, having already been outperformed in Australia. The teammates secured the fourth and eighth positions on the starting grid, respectively.

Leclerc experienced a difficult qualifying round at Suzuka, managing only one attempt in Q3 due to an unconventional one-stop strategy.

Despite these challenges, he secured a fourth-place finish, surpassing competitors such as Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Lando Norris. Sainz, however, overtook him towards the end, claiming the third spot on the podium with the advantage of fresher tires.

Reflecting on his performance, Leclerc acknowledged the need to focus on his qualifying speed. “It’s my qualifying pace [which is the problem],” he stated, emphasizing the area he believes requires improvement.

“It is not something that I’ve not been very used to in my career to be working on my qualifying pace, because normally it’s pretty good on the Saturday.”

However, his team leader holds a different perspective.

In response to inquiries about what Ferrari needs to change to improve Leclerc’s performance in qualifying, Vasseur refuted the underlying assumption of the question during a discussion with reporters.
“You don’t have to draw a conclusion, just based on the classification,” he asserted promptly.

“I think where we missed a little bit this weekend with Charles [in qualifying] was the first lap of Q1, because he didn’t do a very good lap, and we had to put a second set [of soft tyres] because we were a little bit at risk.

“Then when you go to Q3, you have only one set and you are a little bit on the backfoot because you think: ‘if I make a mistake, I will be P10.’

“We didn’t take the right approach, but I am convinced that Charles is a competitor, he is a good one on the one lap and he’ll be back.”

Building on his previous comments, when it was pointed out that Leclerc had personally recognized his qualifying struggles as an area needing improvement, Vasseur responded, “You can say from the fact that you didn’t do a good qualifying, that you can’t be happy when your team-mate is P4, and you are P8.”