After capturing pole positions in Azerbaijan and Spa, Charles Leclerc found himself baffled by the Ferrari SF-23’s erratic behavior during the Dutch Grand Prix qualifying at Zandvoort. He was sitting in fifth place when his car decided it wanted to do some wall art with four minutes left in Q3.
A minor twitch at the Turn 9 right-hander led Leclerc onto a slippery patch of asphalt and from there onto the wet grass. That’s where things went from bad to “We’ll need a new paint job.” He sideswiped the barriers and, as a result, was relegated to a ninth-place start.
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Following an already shaky Friday practice, the Monegasque driver admits he’s flying blind when it comes to understanding his car’s cornering antics. “The thing about Formula 1 is that you need to know what your car’s about to do before it does it. Right now, it’s like my car’s got multiple personalities. Is it going to understeer? Oversteer? Your guess is as good as mine. It’s a Russian roulette of car behavior,” said Leclerc.
Photo Credits: Andy Hone / F1 Flow Images
Leclerc wasn’t just confused; he also had his struggles with Turn 1, with his front wheels locking up and forcing him into the escape road more than once. Despite overnight tweaks to the car’s setup, Leclerc finds that the Ferrari isn’t exactly dancing to his tune at Zandvoort. “We’ve changed everything but the kitchen sink, and it’s like throwing darts blindfolded. Especially in Turns 1, 9, and 10, the car just doesn’t get it. You go in, release the brake and pray for some mid-corner grip, which was notably absent. Hence, my rendezvous with the wall,” he said.
The famed Italian team is reportedly focusing on creating a more manageable car for the 2024 season with a whole new concept. Leclerc is optimistic but underlines that there’s still a 2023 season to get through. “Look, it’s great that Ferrari’s thinking about the future, but right now, the car is like a temperamental cat—impossible to predict and very hard to control. Getting close to its limits is like walking on eggshells,” he explained.
In the meantime, Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz managed to secure a sixth-place start, trailing the seemingly invincible polesitter Max Verstappen by 1.187 seconds.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Charles Leclerc Dutch GP Qualifying
What happened to Charles Leclerc during the Dutch GP qualifying?
Charles Leclerc faced a challenging Dutch Grand Prix qualifying session. He was running in fifth place when he unexpectedly collided with the barriers, leaving him ranked ninth on the grid.
Why did Leclerc hit the barriers during qualifying?
Leclerc’s incident was a result of his car sliding on the greasy off-line asphalt and wet grass after a minor twitch through Turn 9. This lack of grip caused him to collide side-on with the barriers.
How did Leclerc describe the behavior of his car during the session?
Leclerc expressed frustration with the unpredictability of his Ferrari SF-23. He mentioned having “zero idea” about whether his car would experience understeer or oversteer in corners, making it difficult for him to anticipate and handle the car’s behavior.
What challenges did Leclerc face in specific corners?
Leclerc had difficulties with Turns 1, 9, and 10 throughout the weekend. He struggled with the lack of grip in mid-corner, and despite changes to the car’s setup, he found that these corners remained problematic for him.
How is Ferrari planning to address their car’s performance?
Ferrari is focusing on developing a more manageable car for the 2024 season with a new design concept. Leclerc is optimistic about this change in direction but acknowledges that he still has the 2023 season to complete.
How did Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz perform in qualifying?
Carlos Sainz managed to secure a sixth-place start in qualifying, trailing behind Max Verstappen by 1.187 seconds. Despite the challenges faced by Leclerc, Sainz’s performance was relatively better.
What is the overall sentiment in the Ferrari team after qualifying?
The Ferrari team is facing a mix of frustration and optimism. While Leclerc is struggling with his car’s unpredictability, there’s hope for improvement in the future as Ferrari looks to create a more stable and competitive car for upcoming seasons.