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Charles Leclerc laments the Ferrari strategy blunder in Japan.

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In a dramatic sequence of events leading up to the Japanese Grand Prix qualifying, Ferrari’s management of the last practice session frustrated Charles Leclerc. After making a crucial error, the driver from Monaco, who is presently four points behind championship leader Max Verstappen, began to doubt his team’s strategy.

Leclerc, who has shown remarkable form in the first three races of the season with two podium places, suffered a blow as Ferrari was unable to keep up with Red Bull’s pace at Suzuka. When Leclerc was unable to do a second “push lap” at the end of the third practice session, he became extremely frustrated because he thought his crew was causing needless delays.

“To be honest, I don’t understand,” Leclerc ranting over team radio. “How do we intend to remain in the garage? God, I’m so sorry! We have two laps in FP3. Do two rounds. Come on, let’s get this done!”

This disappointment continued throughout qualifying, when Leclerc continued to struggle with his performance and ended up starting just ninth on the line for Sunday’s race—four positions behind teammate Carlos Sainz. Leclerc’s dissatisfaction was evident and echoed other grievances he has spoken against Ferrari, most notably at the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix when a mistake during the pit stop cost him the victory.

Leclerc said after the qualifying session, “It’s one of those sessions which you get once in a season, it’s not a good feeling.” He is however upbeat about the race speed and the possibility of tactical overtaking opportunities in the next round of racing, despite the setback.

Leclerc’s heartfelt remembrance of his godfather Jules Bianchi, who sadly died from injuries he received in the Japanese Grand Prix ten years ago, is demonstrated by the particular helmet he wore in his honor.

For the fourth race in a row this season, Max Verstappen maintained his unbeaten record by taking the pole position. Lando Norris of McLaren and Sergio Perez of Red Bull secured the second and third positions on the starting grid, respectively.

Leclerc’s story highlights the tenseness and resoluteness that exist in the Ferrari camp as they deal with the difficulties presented by their competitors during this crucial season. Leclerc is determined to take advantage of every chance to improve Ferrari’s performance on the track, even with the race still to come.

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