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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc reveals 'bent' steering wheel 'compromised' sprint qualifying after crash

Charles Leclerc has explained the extend of the damage caused by his off in sprint qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix sprint which led to a "compromised" session, saying "there wasn't much more" he could have done to better his seventh-place finish.

Leclerc China Rain
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Charles Leclerc does not believe he could have done much more to qualify his Ferrari better for the Chinese Grand Prix sprint, having been "compromised" by his off-track excursion in SQ3.

As conditions worsened, the 10 remaining drivers strapped on intermediate tyres for the final session of sprint qualifying, with the Bitumen-infused track surface proving evermore treacherous.

Leclerc was the first driver to have a big moment, going off and sliding into the barrier. Despite being able to continue, the Monegasque has explained how that mistake impacted the rest of his session.

“To be honest, the very first out lap was extremely tricky - it was very difficult to switch on the tyres," the 26-year-old said after qualifying in seventh-place for the sprint.

“I tried to be a bit aggressive, but obviously I lost it out of Turn 8, and that compromised a little bit our quali[fying] because then the steering wheel was a little bit bent.”

“But all in all, I don't think there was any miracles – there wasn't much more we could have done."

Leclerc is renowned for his one-lap pace, often considered one of the best qualifiers in F1. However, the 23-time pole-sitter has struggled relatively in that area this season.

That has, in part, been punctuated by his team-mate's improved qualifying form. Carlos Sainz will line up for the sprint race one row ahead, in fifth.

"Obviously, on my side, again I didn't maximise qualifying, which I'm not happy with," said Leclerc.

"If I have to look at the positives, it’s that I think on the dry I did some big steps forward and on that I'm happy, because I've been working a lot on the preparation of the tyres in the dry and it seems to be paying off – for today at least. But let's see tomorrow, the race will be long.”

When asked how he was feeling about the opportunity to put those lessons into practice in the sprint, the five-time race winner replied: “Yeah, I’m looking forward [being able] to show [my dry weather pace]. Obviously, I was looking forward to today, to try and show that, but yeah, with the rain in SQ3 I didn’t.

"So, we’ll look to tomorrow to try and maximise our sprint race and then see with the rest.”

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