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Charles Leclerc clarifies Ferrari team radio confusion: I said cat, not cut

Charles Leclerc clarifies Ferrari team radio confusion: I said cat, not cut

Charles Leclerc caused some concern when he reported a “cut” while leading Saturday’s Formula One sprint race in Baku but the Ferrari driver later clarified he was referring to a cat.

Asked whether there had been any recurrence of what had sounded like an engine cutout, Leclerc told reporters: “Absolutely not. I said a cat — which is different.

“There was a cat in the middle of the road and the safety car had to stop, but I think I was probably the only one who saw that. In the exit of Turn One there was a cat and the safety car braked.”

Leclerc, who started on pole position, finished second. Mexican Sergio Perez, the winner for Red Bull who was following Leclerc at the time, said he had not been aware of the cat.

The Baku street circuit snakes through the old town, with the track ringed with metal fences designed more for safety than to keep out resident felines determined to overcome any obstacle.

Cats, feral or otherwise, have been a problem in the past at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with one caught on the television feed darting across the track in front of Lewis Hamilton in 2016.

Formula One’s race in Turkey, now no longer on the calendar, had more of a problem with stray dogs on track. In 2008 one was hit by Brazilian Bruno Senna‘s car in a GP2 support race at Istanbul Park. Viewers of the Canadian Grand Prix are also used to seeing groundhogs making a dash for safety at Montreal’s island Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Leclerc, who starts on pole in Sunday’s race, said Ferrari have made a “step forward” in Baku.

“It confirms a little bit what we thought: the Red Bull still has the upper hand in the race. But we, again, must not forget how far we were behind on race pace two races ago,” he said.

“So we did a step forward; we are still not where we want to be. But…if winning is not possible then we just need to take the maximum points. And today, there wasn’t anything more, so [I’m] happy with the second place.

“And we will try, anyway, to go for the win tomorrow, even though the Red Bull seems to be quicker.”

Ferrari failed to win any points in the previous race in Australia, with a five-second penalty demoting Carlos Sainz demoted from fourth to 12th, but they were adamant then that progress was being made.

Team boss Fred Vasseur said Saturday had provided more evidence of that.

“In Melbourne, we saw we had made progress and I think that so far this weekend, that has also been confirmed here,” the Frenchman said. “In qualifying trim we were quicker…

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