Leclerc baffled by Ferrari loss of pace on hard tyre


Charles Leclerc was at a loss to explain his Ferrari’s significant drop in pace on the hard tyre in the second half of the Chinese GP which he finished fourth, over 23 seconds adrift from race winner Max Verstappen.

The commotion at the start between Leclerc and his Scuderia teammate Carlos Sainz dropped both drivers down a position from their respective P6 and P7 starting slots on the grid.

But progress ensued thereafter with the Monegasque pushing up to third while relying on a one-stop medium-to-hard strategy to complete his afternoon.

But a switch to the white-rimmed hard rubber on lap 23 during the race’s Virtual Safety Car neutralization eventually saw Leclerc’s pace suddenly fall by half a second, which ultimately dropped him into the clutches of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and down to P4 where he remained until the checkered flag.

“I don't think we found it [the pace] as a team, especially on the hard tyres, which is a bit strange because the strength of this car since the beginning of the year is it's very solid in all conditions with all tyres,” commented a puzzled Leclerc.

“Today is a bit an outlier because as soon as we put on the hards, we were half a second off. So that is very strange. We will look into it and try to understand what went wrong on that run.”

Leclerc says his game plan after his switch to the hard compound, and once the race got back underway after two Safety Car periods, was to battle McLaren’s Lando Norris for a spot on the podium.

But that prospect never came to pass.

“It's very strange, especially compared with the McLaren. With Lando at first, I really thought we were going to fight with him,” he added.

“I was doing good tyre management until the safety car that reset it a little bit, all strategies, which is a bit of a shame because I think we were doing a good job and then, on the hard, we were just slow.

“We were expecting this weekend to be very similar or in line with whatever we've seen since the beginning of the season, but we were struggling quite a bit more.”

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter