Charles Leclerc lifts the lid on unexpected change of race engineer

Charles Leclerc's verdict on Xavi Marcos' role change and Ferrari's upgrades

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari with the team. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 6, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA,
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari with the team. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Charles Leclerc has insisted that Ferrari made the decision to replace his race engineer.

Leclerc enters this weekend’s F1 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix with Bryan Bozzi on the other end of his team radio, where Xavi Marcos has been for years.

The Ferrari driver claimed he did not make the call to reshuffle the team.

“Obviously, it's very tight in the front and everything makes a difference,” Leclerc said in Imola.

“However, the decision was made between the team and Xavi. They've had other plans in mind, I guess.

“It was communicated to me right after Miami.

“Having said that, Bryan, that will take the role of Xavi from now onwards, is a person I have been working with since I arrived in Ferrari.

“He's always been my performance engineer, so he knows exactly how everything works.

“It's not like I'm starting from zero and that it's going to be a complete adaptation. It's been super smooth until now and I'm sure that it will continue that way. That will be at our 100% already from this weekend. That's all I can say.”

Although Leclerc and Marcos had worked together since his arrival at Ferrari in 2019, their relationship is notable for several public clashes via team radio.

Most recently, they had a heated exchange at the F1 Chinese Grand Prix.

“I think communication has always been a big thing since we worked with Xavi,” Leclerc said.

“We always try and communicate as much as possible. This is the way I work to try and have the best picture overall.

“As I said, I think we'll focus on having the smoothest transition possible and then we'll focus on the things that matter to us. I don't think it was a particular problem in the past.”

The change, decided by the team itself, could be regarded as the latest tweak made by team principal Fred Vasseur.

Vasseur has already improved Ferrari’s strategy and has been praised for his calmer approach, not to mention the recruitment of Lewis Hamilton for 2025.

Leclerc was asked about Vasseur’s assertion that Ferrari must shed their conservative nature and take more risks to overthrow Red Bull.

“I think it's definitely a step that Fred has already made the team do this year especially, focusing on the last detail, on the last degree, on the very last fine details out of everybody in the team,” he said.

“And when you put everything together, so if you look only at one detail, you're like, okay, why take the risk?

“But then when everybody takes this risk, you add everything up and it makes a big difference.

“And this is definitely the approach that we need to take if we want to go and beat Red Bull, because at the moment they are extremely strong.

“As we've seen in the first part of the season, not only Red Bull, McLaren are very strong.

“So it's very important for us to extract the absolute maximum of the car. And I think this is the mentality that we've had since the beginning of the season and that we'll continue having forward to try and beat everybody.”

Leclerc verdict on Ferrari's Imola upgrades

Ferrari arrive at their home race in Italy with upgrades which they hope can close the gap to Red Bull.

Those upgrades were tested by Leclerc in a filming day at Fiorano last week.

“The target overall, obviously, the upgrades are done in a way that they've been projected and thought about quite a long time ago,” Leclerc said.

“It's not like we could react to the first weaknesses of the car.

“However, it's just to make it a much better car all around. That was the main target.

“More than in Fiorano because, again, it was for filming purposes. It's not like we have tested anything special.

“It was mostly on the simulator where we could see the first data and feel the first few things. It was small steps in the right direction.

“Now it's all to be seen whether in reality we find the gains that we have seen on the simulator, which I hope we do.”

Ferrari struggled at Imola last year but, this weekend with rain expected, Leclerc is optimistic.

“I think last year where we were struggling the most was with the wind sensitivity,” he said.

“So from where the wind will come from it will affect our car a lot more than others.

“This year we have tackled that quite well and the car is a lot more predictable, is a lot better in all conditions.

“This is why I think whatever tracks we have been to, whatever conditions there were in terms of wind direction, wind intensity, our performance was very similar, which is a plus.

“Last year was a lot more up and down, so we have worked on that. It got a lot better. The ones that remain to be seen is mostly the wet driving that we haven't had enough yet to judge.”

Ferrari were close to Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in Miami, but not in China.

“I think it was more down to the track characteristics,” Leclerc explained.

“I think in China as well, we were quite in a good place with the setup and we maximised the potential of the car.

“The nature of some corners in China made us struggle a lot more. We were losing way too much time, especially after qualifying.

“I think there was three or four tenths in the first sector only. Which after that, if you look second and third sector, we were actually pretty quick.

“But that was too late to recover what we lost in the first sector. So I think the nature of Shanghai for some reason wasn't very nice to our car.

“And in Miami, there weren't those off corners where the car for some reason wouldn't work.”

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