Charles Leclerc Interviews transcripted – 2023 Saudi Arabian GP Thursday
To Sky Sports F1
Q : So, Charles first of all, let’s talk about Bahrain. Have the team found what the problem was? Have they put a fix in place? Or is this new unit just because you’re still working to try and establish what happened?
CL: Sorry ?
Q : So what happened in Bahrain? Have the team found what the problem was that kept happening to you? Or is this unit just want to replace it until you can work out what’s happened?
CL : I mean, we had two control unit problems in Bahrain, which means that we already need to take a penalty. We understand these problems, but as a result, I obviously need to take a penalty because I don’t think they are reusable. We don’t have the confirmation yet, but I don’t think so.
Q : Are you worried then at all about the one you’re putting in for this weekend?
CL : No, because the team has told me that they understood those issues. So no, the worry is not here.
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Q : So this track. High speed corners. I’ve just spoken to Fernando. He thinks you’ll be up there as well this weekend. It’s a real opportunity, isn’t it, I think, for the Ferrari to try and get back in that fight this weekend?
CL : Yes, definitely. I think it might fit our car a little bit better on the paper, but we never know because Red Bull can also be, I think [Red Bull Racing] have a very flexible car, and they can change the car quite a lot from Bahrain to here and be extremely competitive here, too.
So our weakness in Bahrain was clearly the race pace in general and the tire degradation. On that, we’ve been working a lot. I’m sure that it will be a step forward compared to Bahrain. And it’s also not as big of a problem as Bahrain in terms of tyre degradation. So that should help us.
On the other hand, I’ve got a ten-place grid penalty, so it will be a bit more difficult for me. But I’ll do absolutely everything to have a good start and hopefully come back at the front as quickly as possible.
Q : Do you think Red Bull were holding anything back in Bahrain? Do you think we’ve seen their pace or do you think they’ve got even more in their locker if you do manage to keep up?
CL : I think if we look Bahrain, I think they have more. But again, Bahrain is very specific, and I hope that we can be closer starting this weekend.
Q : Thanks a lot.
CL : Thank you.
Q : So take me through what happened. Ferrari changed a couple of parts on the engine last week before the race. Did the same parts fail?
CL : Yes, well, we’ve broken two control units in the first race in Bahrain, which as a result, we have to take a ten-place grid penalty for this weekend. So it’s a bit of uphill weekend, but I like those challenges and I’ll give absolutely everything to make a special weekend and come back in the front as quickly as possible.
Q : Do you think Ferrari’s strength can be brought out by this track? Do you think you’ll be more competitive here than you were in Bahrain?
CL : I think we were competitive in qualifying in Bahrain. In the race we were lacking a lot compared to Red Bull, but Bahrain is very specific, especially in the race, so hopefully we can be closer to Red Bull, especially in the race. I think this track fits a little bit more our car characteristics, but before speaking, let’s see how it goes tomorrow.
Q : What characteristics would those be?
CL : Well, I mean, it’s more straight line speed. We’ve been focusing on that this year and I think we’ve done a step forward, so I hope we can see that as a team here.
Q: And finally, are you going to have to be more aggressive now, coming from towards the back to the front?
CL : Yes, but it’s also a fine balance, no? I mean, I need every possible points. So, yeah, I’ll try to be as quickly as possible back in the front without taking an unnecessary risks.
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