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Leclerc says his Ferrari has been ‘very difficult to drive’ at Zandvoort as he explains qualifying crash

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Charles Leclerc was left to rue an ill-handling Ferrari SF-23 after crashing out of qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix, an incident that leaves him a lowly ninth on the grid.

Leclerc lost control of his car through Zandvoort’s Turn 9 in the Q3 phase, slamming into the barriers at speed and prompting him to watch the rest of the session from a trackside camping chair.

READ MORE: Verstappen tops dramatic wet-dry Zandvoort qualifying to extend run of Dutch GP poles

After stepping out of the cockpit, he commented: “I mean, I had two laps consecutive there and I tried to give it [my] all, but unfortunately it didn’t work out.

2023 Dutch GP Qualifying: Leclerc thumps the wall in heavy Q3 crash

“We’ve had a very difficult balance and a very difficult car to drive all weekend. There, I lost the front, then the rear, and I just couldn’t go around the corner, so it’s like this.”

Asked if there are any indications why the car has been so challenging to drive this weekend, he said: “We don’t have [any] yet, no. We definitely need to look into it because we’re struggling a lot with the car balance especially – it makes it very difficult for us.”

READ MORE: ‘We had to risk it!’ – Verstappen hails ‘very enjoyable’ final lap to net third Dutch GP pole in a row

Leclerc’s team mate, Carlos Sainz, managed to qualify sixth in the sister Ferrari, describing it as a positive result given the team’s general lack of pace at the Dutch venue.

ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - AUGUST 26: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-23 on track

After Leclerc’s absence, team mate Sainz put his Ferrari sixth on the grid

“I think we were going to be in the fight for Q3, just to get in and to be P6 obviously is a decent outcome,” said Sainz. “We didn’t do any mistakes, we did a decent quali execution, decent laps here and there, so I think we need to be happy with P6 considering the car’s performance this weekend.

“Tomorrow, I think somewhere around there would be a decent result, because Williams, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, Aston Martin, they are all quicker than us, which puts you pretty much P11, P12, so to actually be P6 is a decent starting position.”

READ MORE: Hamilton pinpoints main cause of shock Q2 exit at Zandvoort as Russell revels in qualifying breakthrough

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