Leclerc rues 'just not good enough' Ferrari pace in Jeddah


Ferrari's Charles Leclerc says he struggled for pace during his second stint in Sunday's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which stopped his early progression in the race dead in its tracks.

The Monegasque had qualified second, but a 10-place grid drop due to an engine penalty saw him line up 12th at the start.

However, a strong opening stint of 16 laps allowed Leclerc to carve his way up to P7 on the soft compound tyre, just behind teammate Carlos Sainz and ahead of his switch to Pirelli's hard rubber and of a subsequent safety car period triggered by the retirement of Lance Stroll's Aston Martin.

"A good first stint, a good start," Leclerc said after the race. "I think really good management on the softs, which was positive.”

"On the hard [tyre], I got within a second, one lap, to Carlos with the DRS. Then unfortunately I lost the DRS and then from that moment onwards you are losing too much downforce when you are one second to one-and-a-half and I was just staying there for the rest of the race."

Frustrations ensued at one point in the race when he was belatedly informed by his Ferrari race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros that Lewis Hamilton who was running just ahead of Leclerc had pitted under the safety car, which deprived the latter of a chance to overhaul the Mercedes driver.

"Try to push from Safety Car line one for Hamilton, he just pitted," his engineer told him, to which a very annoyed Leclerc quipped: "Xavi, you need to tell me that before! Come on!"

"I thought we were clear and we weren’t fighting anybody," Leclerc later explained. "So I was trying to take a bit of a gap to actually push on the tyre.

"But then Xavi told me, I think just before the first corner, that we were fighting Hamilton and so I was too late for being on the limit of the delta."

Seventh place for Leclerc at the checkered flag, with Sainz crossing the finish line sixth was hardly a result to write home about for the Scuderia.

But Leclerc nevertheless noted one positive takeaway from his evening in Jeddah.

"There’s much less degradation here," he said. "So overall, I think this goes more our way.

"But overall the pace is just not good enough. Honestly, there wasn’t much more in the car today. That was the best we could do."

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