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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc seeks Ferrari investigation after 'crazy' gap to Verstappen

Charles Leclerc couldn’t challenge for pole position in Japan, with Max Verstappen cruising to the top spot.

Leclerc Japan
To news overview © XPBimages

Charles Leclerc has admitted shock over the deficit to Max Verstappen following qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Last weekend in Singapore, Ferrari was the pick of the field, with Carlos Sainz leading Leclerc for a one-three finish for the Italian squad in qualifying.

This time around, however, Red Bull was back on form with Verstappen securing pole position amid little challenge, ending up 0.581s clear of P2 qualifier Oscar Piastri.

Leclerc is set to take the start of the Grand Prix in fourth place, sharing the second row with Lando Norris.

The deficit between Leclerc and pole-sitter Verstappen was almost seven-tenths of a second, leaving the Monegasque driver to admit amazement over the gap.

Leclerc sets target on McLaren

‘It’s crazy,” Leclerc told media including RacingNews365.

“They’ve been on it straight from FP1, we understood there was quite a bit of work to do, especially in sector one, because in sector one we are losing most of the time we are losing around the lap.

"This we need to look into because it might help us to understand where we need to work and in which condition our car is weak at the moment.

“Also if you look at the McLaren, that’s where we’ve been struggling.

“On that lap in Q3, I did a really good sector one. But it’s still far off. We need to work on that.

“It feels amazing but it’s a bit disappointing when you finish such a great lap, you’re P4 and seven-tenths off too.

“It’s good but it would be more enjoyable if we were fighting for first position.”

Both McLarens managed to out-perform the Ferraris, with Piastri taking the best result of his rookie season in second place.

When asked if it would be difficult to overtake the Woking-based squad in the race, Leclerc said: "I think so.

“Our race pace is very similar to theirs, so [we need to] either [pass] at the start or through the strategy.”

However, one major factor that will be considered throughout the grid is the track temperature, with overheating tyres expected to play a part in the race.

“Especially with the extremely warm temperatures this year, the overheating is really, really bad,” Leclerc added.

“I expect it [the race] will be all about tyre management and the strategy.”

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F1 2023 Japanese Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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