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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc gives worrying Ferrari assessment after difficult Japan qualifying

Charles Leclerc endured a difficult qualifying session in Japan and is set to start the grand prix in eighth place.

Leclerc Japan
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Charles Leclerc has admitted he is in the dark over the cause of his difficult qualifying session at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Monégasque driver is set to start in eighth place, his lowest grid position since last year's outing in The Netherlands.

Ferrari struggled with pace through Saturday at Suzuka despite feeling positive about its prospects following Friday practice.

Speaking to media including RacingNews365, Leclerc explained he has no immediate answers for his lack of pace as he felt comfortable behind the wheel throughout the session.

“Most of the time when you are finishing P8, there’s always an explanation for it - whether there's a mistake in one corner or just the setup,” he said.

“But honestly the car felt in a good place. The lap felt quite okay, just not enough grip available to go faster.

“There's a pattern since Q1 that has been a bit strange, which I believe is more related to tyre preparation, but it's not been only once this year.

“So we'll have to look into it and try to understand what I can do better to get those tyres ready for qualifying [going forward] because at the moment I'm struggling mostly with that.

“I don’t really have an explanation for that now.”

Stronger race pace

Leclerc is taking solace in the fact that Ferrari displayed strong race pace during its practice simulations.

However, he anticipates that overtaking around the narrow track will be difficult.

“We are further away than what we thought, maybe the car characteristics doesn’t suit as much at Suzuka as the Red Bull does.

“It’s a bit strange because I think on the long run we are pretty good.

“I'm optimistic about our race pace. I'm less optimistic to overtake on a track like this.

“Suzuka is normally a very difficult track to overtake so if we have enough pace to overtake, then I think we can do great tomorrow. But it's going to be difficult.”

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