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Charles Leclerc

Vasseur soothes Leclerc fear after Japan woes: 'He'll be back'

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has poured cold water over the assertion that Charles Leclerc is struggling in qualifying.

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Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur insists that Charles Leclerc’s qualifying performances are not a cause for concern.

At the Japanese Grand Prix, Leclerc was once again out-qualified by Carlos Sainz, with the two lining up fourth and eighth, respectively after Sainz also started ahead in Australia.

Qualifying was a messy session for Leclerc, who only had a single run in Q3 and was forced into executing an off-set one-stop strategy at Suzuka.

This salvaged fourth place for the Monegasque which allowed him to climb ahead of the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris, although Sainz nipped past to grab the final podium spot late on with his fresher Pirellis.

Leclerc matter of factly declared that his race could not have gone better, before turning his attention to his qualifying form.

"It's my qualifying pace [which is the problem]," he began.

"It is not something that I've not been very used to in my career to be working on my qualifying pace, because normally it's pretty good on the Saturday.”

A difference of opinion?

His team principal, however, doesn’t quite see it that way.

When asked what Ferrari has to do differently to get Leclerc’s qualifying pace back on track, Vasseur dismissed the premise of the question when speaking with media, including RacingNews365.

"You don't have to draw a conclusion, just based on the classification,” he quickly responded.

"I think where we missed a little bit this weekend with Charles [in qualifying] was the first lap of Q1, because he didn’t do a very good lap, and we had to put a second set [of soft tyres] because we were a little bit at risk.

"Then when you go to Q3, you have only one set and you are a little bit on the backfoot because you think: ‘if I make a mistake, I will be P10.’

"We didn’t take the right approach, but I am convinced that Charles is a competitor, he is a good one on the one lap and he’ll be back.”

Following up on his answer, it was highlighted that Leclerc himself had identified qualifying as a current weakness, and that it is something he needs to sort out, Vasseur replied: "You can say from the fact that you didn’t do a good qualifying, that you can’t be happy when your team-mate is P4, and you are P8.”

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