Charles Leclerc says Ferrari must be “better at putting a weekend together” and needs to take “another step” if it wants to challenge for the Formula 1 world championships after an erroneous strategy at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Leclerc labelled the second half of the grand prix a “disaster” as his Ferrari team’s decision to fit the hard tyres at his second stop dropped him from victory contention to sixth place.
Leclerc had passed first-time F1 poleman George Russell and was on course to battle his chief title rival Max Verstappen for the race win at the Hungaroring before Ferrari made its latest ill-fated strategy call in 2022.
When Verstappen opted for mediums that would get him to the end of the race, Ferrari called Leclerc in on the very next lap for a set of hard tyres.
This proved to be a crucial error as, like the other cars such as the Alpines and the Haas that had fitted hard tyres, Leclerc couldn’t fire temperature into them, and his pace plummeted.
Leclerc said he felt “all over the place” on the hards and he was passed twice for the net race lead by Verstappen after the Red Bull driver spun shortly after completing his first overtake.
“I said I wanted to stay on the mediums as long as possible, so yeah we need to understand why we went on the hards because I made it clear that I wanted to keep the medium as long as possible so need to understand why,” Leclerc said after the race.
“A race like this is frustrating, and we need to get better as a whole, it always feels like there’s something going on, whatever it is, reliability, mistakes or whatever, we need to be better at putting a weekend together.
“We’ll try and use the few days we have to reset, but also to analyse where we need to be better, what we can do to get better. It’s extremely important, so we will work on that.”
Leclerc believed Red Bull’s call to pit Verstappen was to “put us under pressure” and Ferrari erroneously reacting to that created a “snowball effect” that made it lose much more than it should have done.
Ferrari opted to pit Leclerc for a third time for the softs such was his poor pace on the hard tyres.
Leclerc said he needed to understand exactly what went wrong in the race “before thinking about the championship”.
After he crashed out of the race lead at Paul Ricard, Leclerc said he didn’t deserve to win the championship if he continued to make errors.
Leclerc was asked after the race if that same statement was now true of his Ferrari team.
“As a team looking where we are coming from in the last two years, I do believe it’s an incredible step forward,” Leclerc replied.
“On the other hand, there’s another step we need to do and we are working on that. But I’m confident we’ll do it.”
Leclerc has now fallen 80 points behind Verstappen in the drivers’ championship with nine races remaining while Ferrari is far closer to third place Mercedes than constructors’ championship leader Red Bull.