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Ferrari has a special relationship with China. Drivers of the Maranello outfit have been on the podium in the last 7 races in Shanghai – from 2013 to 2019. After that, the Chinese GP exited the F1 calendar to return after 5 years in 2024. Charles Leclerc, who joined Ferrari in 2019, had secured P5 for them that year while Carlos Sainz (in McLaren) finished P14 and was lapped. But a lot has changed in China in these 5 years – from circuit changes to the F1 Sprint format. As a result, Team Principal Frederic Vasseur has warned his drivers before the race weekend gets underway.

The Shanghai International Circuit is known to degrade the tires very quickly. Ferrari, who struggles on high-degradation circuits is in for a big challenge. To add to this, they’ll only get 1 practice session to extract as much data as they can. But strategic management isn’t their strong suit either. It’ll be up to Leclerc and Sainz to pull a rabbit out of that hat to sustain Ferrari’s podium streak in China.

“We are returning to Shanghai after a break of several years, which will undoubtedly make the weekend very difficult for everyone,” Vasseur said about the difficulty that his drivers will face. “We will have to deal with a combination of several factors as it is the first time that this generation  and the current number of cars will race at this circuit, but we will only have one free practice session before fighting for positions on the Sprint grid.”

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Another major question mark relates to the condition of the track surface, which could be bumpier since our last visit.” He also highlighted how Ferrari’s focus will remain on Qualifying pace, which has been their weak point. “With Carlos and Charles, our goal is to exploit the full potential of the car and achieve a good result, while putting our competitors under pressure,” the Frenchman added.

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The Chinese GP will prove to be quite a challenge for Ferrari. They only have a small window to get everything right. Despite the challenging nature of the event, Leclerc has chosen to keep his head down to rise above it all.

Charles Leclerc optimistic for “tricky” Chinese GP

Not just Ferrari, but all teams will face the same challenge in China. They’ll have very limited time to perfect the setup. However, with the new Sprint format, the drivers will get 2 opportunities instead of 1 to prove themselves. The Friday Sprint Qualifying will serve the Sprint Race on Saturday. The 2nd Qualifying after the Sprint race will decide the grid for the main race on Sunday. This will be the silver lining, per Leclerc.

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“As always, I think it’s always quite tricky with the Sprint weekend and you have no room for a mistake. But I like this,” the Monegasque told the media of his expectations for China. “It’s even more of a challenge because qualifying now is a point I need to focus on for putting the tires in the right window. So I’ll have two qualifying [sessions] in Shanghai, two chances to recover well.”

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Leclerc is not just fighting for Ferrari. He also has a point to prove against his teammate Carlos Sainz, who is in incredible form. Will the added challenge elevate him in Shanghai? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by

Yash Kotak

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Yash is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a strong passion for communicating through written word and a keen interest in the world of motorsports, he thoroughly enjoys being a fan of F1 and covering it for other fans. Ever since he watched the 'INSIDE TRACKS' episode covering the 2018 German Grand Prix, he has fallen in love with the intriguingly complex world of F1.
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Edited by

Varunkumaar Chelladurai