One of Formula 1’s standout qualifiers, Leclerc, has experienced a series of underwhelming performances against time in 2023, struggling with the simplified approach required in mixed conditions to minimize errors and maintain the Pirelli tyres in the optimal state with his assertive driving style.
His disappointing finish in Barcelona, where he qualified 19th after a wet FP3 session, as well as his elimination during Canada’s Q2 session during the transition from intermediate to slick tyres, have been significant blows.
Ahead of the Spa weekend, Leclerc disclosed that he and Ferrari had been diligently working to address these challenges. This hard work “paid dividends” when he secured second place behind Max Verstappen in the GP qualifiers for the Belgian event on Friday night.
Leclerc explained his efforts had been centered around “adjusting my driving style,” as his typically aggressive style was ineffective in those conditions.
“I was making frequent mistakes and found it challenging to construct a reliable foundation,” he continued. “So, I altered my approach a bit and it seems to be more effective.”
A comparison of Leclerc’s performances in Barcelona and his driving at Spa on Friday night indicates a more controlled overall approach.
Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, in the post-qualifying press conference
Photo by: F1 Flow Images
Apart from a minor hitch at Turn 8, one of the most challenging parts of the Spa circuit after rainfall prior to GP qualifying, and a slide at the Bus Stop chicane, Leclerc’s SF-23 stayed steady throughout his run to a personal best 1m46.988s.
His meticulous navigation of the dry line was particularly notable, suggesting that his efforts to better maintain tyre condition — having them at the right temperature at the start of laps and ensuring they last to the end — have been fruitful.
However, Leclerc lamented that Ferrari had moved “a tad too early” during Q3 due to the evolving track conditions in mixed weather, with Verstappen being one of the last Q3 competitors to finish.
While Leclerc remained vague about the specifics of his adapted driving style for drying tracks, he admitted to making different adjustments to the Ferrari drivers’ steering wheel ‘tools’ used for tweaking the differential positioning to improve car control during qualifying laps.
“As I stated earlier, my driving style is typically aggressive, which works well in full wet or dry conditions,” Leclerc said. “However, it doesn’t work as well when using slick tyres in mixed conditions.
“I experimented with different approaches, including adjustments to the car setup and how I could modify it from corner to corner.
“This instantly boosted my confidence, and as a result, my lap times improved.”
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Charles Leclerc’s Driving Style
What challenges has F1’s Charles Leclerc faced in 2023?
Leclerc has faced several challenges, particularly with qualifying. His aggressive driving style has been problematic in mixed conditions, leading to several disappointing results, such as his 19th place finish in Barcelona and his Q2 session elimination in Canada.
How has Leclerc adapted his driving style to improve his performance?
Leclerc, in conjunction with Ferrari, has worked to adjust his typically aggressive driving style to better suit mixed conditions. By making this change, he’s been able to minimize errors and better control tyre conditions, resulting in improved performance.
What specific changes has Leclerc made to his driving style?
While Leclerc hasn’t given precise details, he has mentioned making minor adjustments to his approach, including changes to the Ferrari drivers’ steering wheel ‘tools’. These are used to tweak differential positioning, helping to improve car control during qualifying laps.
What is notable about Leclerc’s performance at Spa?
Leclerc’s performance at Spa is notable for its contrast with previous races. His driving was much calmer, and he navigated the dry line effectively, leading to a personal best of 1m46.988s. His efforts to maintain tyre condition also proved successful.
How did Leclerc finish in the Belgian event’s GP qualifying?
In the Belgian event’s GP qualifying, Leclerc finished second behind Max Verstappen, indicating that the changes in his driving style and his efforts with Ferrari have paid off.