The Monegasque suffered an uancharaterically poor qualifying on F1’s maiden visit to the Losail International Circuit and could only manage the 13th-quickest time in qualifying as he faced a shock Q2 exit.
Ferrari replaced Leclerc’s chassis after discovering it had sustained a crack in qualifying, which it believes attributed to his surprising lack of competitiveness.
But Leclerc was able to recover to finish eighth behind Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz in the race as the Italian outfit increased its lead over McLaren in the battle over third place in the constructors’ championship.
“Obviously when you look at the position it’s nothing special but if you look at the pace in free air in the second stint it’s very positive and we were very strong,” Leclerc said.
“It’s a track where it is quite difficult to overtake – especially when you are on the same strategy as the guys in front. So whenever I was in free air I could show my true pace.
“And I’m quite happy to see that the pace is back after the change of chassis because yesterday was a bit worrying to see so much lack of pace and obviously when you see a chassis is damaged you never know how much is in the chassis damage or whatever.
“So to find the pace back after that change feels good.”
Leclerc insisted he “didn’t have any concerns” once he knew the chassis had been replaced.
“Obviously it’s normally not a thing where you have much difference going to another chassis,” he said. “New or same spec it’s easy to find the same feeling – so no I didn’t have any concerns.”
Meanwhile, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed the chassis will be repaired and act as a spare for the remaining two races of the season.
“The chassis will certainly be repaired, if that will be the chassis we will race I don’t think so at that stage of the season,” Binotto said.
“But what we decided, there was no time to repair simply to replace it, it was identical in terms of specification, design, whatever to the one he had.
“I don’t think there is a preference to the two, the one being cracked being simply repaired that will be very likely [be] the spare for the rest of the season.”