The Qatar Grand Prix will certainly not be remembered by Ferrari at the end of this 2021 season. The Maranello team, which arrived in Losail as the third force in the Constructors, suffered in digesting the unprecedented track for the circus at the SF21.
From Friday it was understood that the third to last round of the championship would be particularly complicated and fears became certainties already on Saturday. The qualifying session saw Charles Leclerc even eliminated at the end of Q2, while Carlos Sainz barely entered Q3 after having agreed with the team to make the second attempt with medium tires.
The disappointing performance of the Monegasque on Saturday was determined by a crack in the frame that appeared after a too violent pass on a curb. The team was thus forced to change the chassis and the operation was carried out in record time, allowing Leclerc to start from thirteenth on the grid.
The race confirmed the difficulties of the eve. Leclerc managed to recover up to eighth place, also thanks to the puncture – and retirement – suffered by Bottas and the unexpected tire change made by Norris in the final when the Englishman of McLaren also suffered a puncture on the front left.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21
Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images
At the end of the race Charles explained to the Sky Sport F1 HD microphones that he had not had any problems with the new chassis and that he needed a few laps to find the right confidence with a rebuilt car.
“The first stint helped me to adapt to the new chassis, but I was quite happy with the feeling with the car. I had to change some settings on the steering wheel, but once I found all the correct settings I was fine ”.
What left a bad taste in the mouth of Leclerc, but also of the Red fans, was having seen Ferrari struggling in comparison with the other mid-table teams. Cars that until the last few appointments did not seem to bother the Scuderia, today appeared unreachable.
Charles pointed out the surprises of the day in AlphaTauri and Alpine and wants the team to understand why these two teams have been so competitive this weekend.
“The gap with Mercedes and Red Bull was what we expected, while the surprise came from some teams in the mid-table group that went so fast.”
“Seeing the AlphaTauri and the Alpine so competitive surprised us negatively. We have to understand why they have been so strong this weekend ”.
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