Leclerc started on softs from third as Ferrari split their tyre strategies in Singapore after Carlos Sainz claimed pole position ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell

The Monegasque jumped Russell at the start to see Ferrari running in a 1-2 that helped the Italian outfit dictate the race. Leclerc was ultimately compromised and would finish fourth, while Sainz went on to bag Ferrari’s first win since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix, ending Red Bull’s unbeaten run. 

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Leclerc explained that Ferrari had devised the plan to maximise their chances of winning the race before qualifying had taken place.

“It was clear already from the Saturday night after qualifying, probably even before qualifying, that whoever was first, the second car would have to basically help the car in front,” he said. 

“So this was clear and we did a good job so I’m really happy that at least the team could win.

“It also motivates me and gives me an extra push in order to win one before the end of the season.”

Despite Ferrari’s resurgence at the last two races, Leclerc fully expects Red Bull and Max Verstappen to return to winning ways at Suzuka. 

“It’s very difficult to predict any team’s performance this year because it’s just varying so much from track to track,” he said. 

“We did not expect Red Bull to struggle that much in Singapore. We did not expect us to be that quick in Singapore. I hope the surprise will be a good surprise for us too this weekend.

“However I think we expect Red Bull to be obviously in front and then it to be a close fight with McLaren and Mercedes. It has been the case for the whole year and every hundredth makes a difference. 

“So it’s very difficult to predict for now whether we will be in front or behind. But we’ll do our best to be the best of the rest.”