Charles Leclerc asserts that Ferrari got “something wrong in our numbers” after his one-stop gamble dropped him to sixth on the road in the United States Grand Prix.

Leclerc immediately relinquished his pole position advantage to Lando Norris away from the line before being demoted by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to fourth.

However, Leclerc was extending his advantage over the cars behind, led by team-mate Carlos Sainz, when Ferrari delayed bringing in its lead driver until Lap 23 of 56.

Although the Monegasque rose to second place once the front-runners committed to a second pit stop, Leclerc plummeted down the order to sixth by the chequered flag.

Leclerc reveals that Ferrari’s estimations initially suggested the one-stop strategy would be a suitable way to run the race, but he accepts it turned out to be the wrong call.

“Straight away from the beginning of the race, we thought the one-stop and the two-stop were extremely close together,” Leclerc, who was later disqualified, explained.

“After 12 or 13 laps, I saw the numbers on the dash and they were pretty good for the one-stop, at least in terms of degradation I wasn’t losing that much time.

“Considering our numbers, the one-stop was the right thing to do but unfortunately, it was definitely the wrong thing to do.

“For some reason, there was something wrong in our numbers today because we were far off the ideal race strategy.”

Asked what went wrong, Leclerc replied: “To be honest, I don’t have the answer yet. It was quite far off the two stops, I mean we finished behind Carlos by about 10 seconds which is a good comparison because we have both got the same car, so yeah.

“There was something off and we will try and understand it.”

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23 on the grid. 22.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race Day.

With his team-mate on fresher rubber baring down on him, Leclerc was advised to move aside for Sainz, proceeding to abide by the request into Turn 12 with five laps remaining.

Whilst he declared that he wanted to “talk after the race”, Leclerc concedes that he understood the decision once he was told Sergio Perez was closing the Ferraris down.

“I understood 10 seconds later when they reopened the radio to tell me that Checo was behind and coming back a little bit on Carlos,” Leclerc discussed.

“I obviously understood we couldn’t afford to fight so, yeah. I completely understand the reason at the end. As soon as they told me that I got it and I just got on with my race.”

Sainz would then attempt to take advantage of Norris’ struggles in the closing stages to catch the McLaren for third on the road, ultimately ending up 5s shy in his pursuit.

The Spaniard was trailing his team-mate by 3s at the time of his first pit stop, meaning a two-stop strategy could have potentially yielded a podium for Leclerc, who had been the quicker Ferrari during the weekend.

“I could have done many things, better than P6 for sure,” Leclerc rued. “Whether it was P3, P4, I don’t know but definitely a better race than today for sure.”

Despite seeing Leclerc removed from the classification, Ferrari would still claim an unexpected podium as Hamilton’s disqualification promoted Sainz up to third.

Aside from the pain of receiving no reward for his efforts, Leclerc was also battling a “tooth infection” throughout the weekend.

“I’ve been on really big painkillers since Thursday,” he revealed. “For some reason now, it’s actually fine because I took the painkillers before the race. I’ve had times where it’s been more intense but nothing that affects me in the car.

“I had like a tooth infection. I think wisdom tooth? I was in quite a lot of pain on Thursday, Friday then it came down but today was okay.”

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