A confusing Q3 ending
Charles Leclerc over the radio at the end of the qualifying session for the 2023 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix described the final run as “sh*t” because of the rush to complete the lap without adequately warming up the tires due to the fear that rain would arrive at the end of Q3. His Maranello teammate Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, did the usual two laps to bring the tires up to temperature, but in doing so, Charles Leclerc had to overtake him in a difficult point on the Albert Park track.
Fred Vasseur takes responsibility for the ‘mess’
“It was a late call – team principal Frederic Vasseur explained in a recent press conference – it seemed to me like an opportunity, but one which was difficult to perform. I take responsibility for that, it wasn’t the drivers. However, the qualifying result did not depend only on this. We didn’t do a good job as a team and we have the potential to do much better. Charles noticed it too, and the frustration comes from that.” – the French manager explained.
In fact, Charles Leclerc had managed to get the most out of the SF-23 challenger in Saudi Arabia, but the ten-place penalty that the Monegasque received due to the introduction of the control unit made Charles’ result in qualifying less significant. Ferrari was also on the front row in Australia, but Carlos Sainz made a mistake in Turn-1, losing two precious tenths: “In qualifying we didn’t extract the car’s potential and that’s where the frustration comes from – added Fred Vasseur – on the last lap of Q3, Carlos Sainz made a mistake in turn 1, but if he had repeated the same turn from the first attempt he would have been on the front row. The weekend was going to be completely different. We also need to be fair in the post-Grand Prix analysis. Jeddah is a great example, because in qualifying Charles put in a great lap and we went beyond the potential of the car. The situation in Melbourne, on the other hand, was a bit extreme, with some preparation laps which, for various reasons, meant that the tires weren’t ready in Turn 1 in the last attempt” – the Frenchman explained.
Frustration in TV interviews is welcome
It was certainly not the beginning of 2023 that Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz dreamed of. The Monegasque driver even has just 6 points in the standings due to the technician failure suffered in Bahrain and the error he made in Turn-3 in Australia where he tried to gain a position on Lance Stroll on the outside, but made contact with the Aston Martin car:
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“In the mixed post-qualifying and post-race area, the drivers are always frustrated, and that’s a good thing – concluded Fred Vasseur – we have to do the best with what we have and focus on ourselves. We made a good leap forward between the second and third races. We have been able to bring a couple of updates. The problem in Melbourne was not the car’s potential but the team’s ability to extract it. In Baku it will be even more crucial, because there will be two qualifying sessions and two races.”