Charles Leclerc says he couldn’t have done nothing better in F1 Japanese GP after finishing fourth from low-key qualifying position of eighth.

It wasn’t the qualifying that Ferrari’s Leclerc expected in F1 Japanese GP where he qualified only eighth. It was down to tyre problems rather than pace or anything else. It showed on Sunday where he had enough pace coupled with good strategy.

He went for one stop strategy which was the slower one but eventually was effective in his case as he climbed four positions from eighth to fourth. The tyre management and degradation worked in his favour too, to secure a good result.

“There was nothing we could have done better,” said Leclerc. “The pace was really good, tyre management was really good, communication was really good. However, as a driver, you always have to look at the negative over the whole weekend. And whether it’s in Australia or here, race pace has not been a problem.

“It’s my qualifying pace, which is not something that I’ve been very used to in my career to be working on my qualifying pace, because normally it’s pretty good on the Saturday. However, since two races now in a row, I’ve been struggling to put the tyres in the right window.

“And this is definitely my main focus now going into Shanghai to try and refine the right window, the tyres, and for me to put them more consistently inside that window. Then once I’ll do that, I’m sure the pace will come back in quali. Honestly, the strategy would have been pretty similar, even if I was starting somewhere else, because the feeling was really, really good with those medium tyres.

“I’ve done a good job in the first stint, so I was really happy with it. So, it probably would have been the same,” summed up Leclerc. Team boss Frederic Vasseur had equal praise for both of his driver actually, but the Monegasque did the heavy job to get through the cars.

“Both stints went very well that we because we pitted also quite early,” said Vasseur. “I think the last stint was something like 30 laps with the hards. It was quite ambitious if you have a look on what Mercedes did. But honestly, we had a very, very low deg. And I don’t know if we were able to do 20 laps more but it was still under control.

“And we have the possibility to extend a little bit, but then it was more a matter of tyre life position than on track. Overall, everything went very well on Sunday, that strategy was the good one for both cars, the defending of the position on track day, tyre management was under control.

“The pitstops went well, that the pace was okay that I’m very convinced that we need a good Sunday. And if we have to change something it’s more the Saturday that we have to improve rather than the Sunday. But it was a good job and a good teamwork,” summed up Vasseur, who noted that they used that strategy for Leclerc to also avoid him getting into a fight with Sainz.

“I’m still convinced that in clean air the optimum was two stops,” said Vasseur. “But to save track position to avoid to be into the fight for Charles the best one was to do one stop. The difference was not mega but it’s depending of your position on track, it’s probably a bit more difficult when you have to do one stop because that you have to keep everything under control and you have always the temptation to push a little bit more. But think he did it very well.”

Here’s Carlos Sainz on losing hope of podium

Here’s how F1 Japanese GP panned out

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