Why Charles Leclerc thought Max Verstappen had retired and Lando Norris had won the 2023 F1 Japanese GP
Charles Leclerc revealed after the race that he thought Max Verstappen had retired and Lando Norris had won the 2023 F1 Japanese GP. The confusion happened because later in the race, Leclerc passed a slow-moving Red Bull and thought it was Verstappen.
As it turned out, the slow-moving Red Bull was Sergio Perez who had come out of the pits to serve his penalty and not carry forward to the next race.
Talking to the media after the race, Leclerc revealed how he thought that he was going to be on the podium, but then when he saw the pitboard, he realised he was still P4. He told media including RacingNews365:
"I thought he [Verstappen] wasn't in the race anymore. So I thought I was getting a podium and on the last lap I actually looked at the [pit] board and I was P4!"
When questioned if the result was the maximum that was possible from the car this weekend, Charles Leclerc admitted that this was the best that the team could get.
"Max, we of course expected him to be strong, we expected Checo also but I don't know what happened to him, and the McLarens too. So there were no surprises. It was all as expected but it was the maximum we can do."
Charles Leclerc on one area that Ferrari needed to work on
Talking about the race, Charles Leclerc gave credit to Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri as he said that both the cars had strong race pace and so did Red Bull at the front.
The driver, however, revealed that the team needed to work on the first sector of the lap as that was the part where the team lost most of the time.
"The pace today wasn't as strong as McLaren. They were super strong. They also had very low tyre management, but I think another weekend like this is good in a way because it confirms exactly what we understood in the last few races."
"Sector one is definitely one of our main weaknesses that should be compared to McLaren. That's where most of the time is lost. We will be working on that for the rest of the season."
The Ferrari driver ended the race in P4, making it a hat-trick of finishes in the same position. Teammate Carlos Sainz finished the race in P6 behind Lewis Hamilton.