Charles Leclerc says Ferrari has been struggling with the same three corners throughout the Dutch Grand Prix weekend, including at Turn 9 where he crashed out in Q3.
The Monegasque driver survived a late scare in Q1 to narrowly escape the drop zone before comfortably progressing to the pole position shootout in the second segment.
But with the track having dried to the point slicks had become a viable option, Leclerc went too wide at Turn 9 on his second push lap in Q3 and the wet grass sent him straight into the barrier and out of the session.
Leclerc, who eventually dropped to ninth, admits that Ferrari has been encountering trouble with the three specific corners at the Zandvoort circuit across the weekend.
“First of all it’s one of those weekends where the car is extremely difficult to drive,” he said.
“Since FP1 we’ve been struggling in Turn 1, 9 and 10 and changed the car completely and honestly there’s not much that helps us in these three corners.
“Turn 9 and 10 is one of those corners where you go into the corner, you are releasing the brake and there is absolutely no grip in the corner for whatever reason. Then you are trusting the car on gripping again on the exit which it didn’t, and I obviously ended up in the wall.”
Leclerc has stressed the importance for Ferrari to understand why it has been consistently battling problems through the same series of corners since FP1 began.
“On the one hand, there are things to understand because being on the same track and having the issue in some type of corners and some others not at all… we need to look into it and hopefully we will understand something out of it because it’s big.”
After it was confirmed yesterday that Ferrari would be developing a “brand new” car for 2024 amid “crystal clear” flaws with its current concept, Leclerc admits he “can’t wait” for this year to end.
When asked about the comments provided by Ferrari Technical Director Enrico Cardile, he said: “Yeah. It’s great to hear that. I can’t wait, first I’ve got a season to finish in ’23, but we can only go in another direction because honestly the car at the moment it is very, very difficult to be on the limit.
“We are particularly struggling this weekend, even more so than what the balance was slow us down, because we need to be so far off the limit because as soon as we get to the limit you really don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s exactly what happened in my Q3 lap, so it’s a difficult situation.”
Leclerc has experienced issues in mixed conditions on multiple occasions this season, dropping out of Q1 in Spain and again failing to reach Q3 in Canada.
However, he has denied that the conditions were to blame for his incident, instead citing the inconsistent behaviour of Ferrari’s SF-23 car as the main reason for his Q3 shunt.
“Conditions, in a way, we’ve had that plenty of times this year and I’m getting more and more comfortable and am OK with that,” he explained. It’s just the car this weekend that is extremely difficult to drive.
“In Formula One it’s all about anticipating and knowing what balance you’re going to get once you get into the corner, but at the moment I’m getting into the corner and I have zero idea if I’m going to have huge understeer, zero understeer, and that makes it very difficult for us.
“It’s been a very difficult weekend and hopefully we can have a clean race tomorrow.”