Charles Leclerc once again found himself at odds with Ferrari‘s strategy during qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix, finishing 11th and failing to advance to the final part of the session. The track conditions presented a choice between slick tires and intermediates, and Leclerc initially went out on the intermediates but quickly felt the track was suitable for slicks. However, Ferrari denied his request, and it turned out to be the wrong call. This has become a recurring theme for Leclerc, with many in the paddock wanting to see him assert himself more and trust his instincts.
Leclerc‘s stature within the team should give him the authority to make such decisions, as he is regarded as Ferrari‘s prodigal son and signed a five-year contract extension in 2019. When asked why he doesn’t overrule his team in these situations, Leclerc explained that he voices his opinion but can’t do much more than that. However, it’s a shame he didn’t directly answer whether he could have taken matters into his own hands by driving into the pit-lane and forcing Ferrari to get him the slick tires he believed were necessary.
Although it must be noted that Ferrari was not the only team misjudging the conditions, with several others also making mistakes. The unpredictability of the track conditions made strategy calls particularly challenging. Some, like Williams‘ Alex Albon, got it right and advanced to Q3, while others, like Red Bull‘s Sergio Perez and Leclerc, found themselves on the wrong tire at the wrong time.
This is not the first time Ferrari has faced criticism for their strategy calls. Last year, Leclerc‘s teammate Carlos Sainz questioned why the media only criticized Ferrari‘s strategy and not its rivals. The frequency of Ferrari‘s blunders has become a recurring issue, leading to the removal of their strategy chief earlier this year. However, the mistakes have persisted.
Leclerc acknowledged his frustration but stopped short of expressing the extent of it. He plans to discuss the incident with Ferrari and hopes to find a way to avoid similar errors in the future. The dynamic between Leclerc and his race engineer, Xavi Marcos Padros, is also worth noting. Unlike Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who are more assertive in challenging their engineers during races, Leclerc‘s exchanges with Padros appear more passive.
Verstappen‘s recent performance at the Spanish Grand Prix serves as a contrast to Leclerc‘s approach. Verstappen went against his engineer’s advice and pushed for the fastest lap, despite having a comfortable lead. He ultimately proved himself right. This shows the stark difference in the driver-engineer dynamic between teams, and it is an area where Ferrari could improve.
In conclusion, Leclerc‘s clash with Ferrari‘s strategy once again highlights the need for him to assert himself when he believes he is right. His stature and talent should afford him more influence over the team’s decisions. Learning from drivers like Verstappen and Hamilton, who confidently challenge their engineers, could help Leclerc in making his case. Ultimately, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, and Leclerc should trust his instincts and take a more assertive approach in the future.