MONTREAL -- Few things seem to happen as regularly in Formula One as Charles Leclerc suggesting a strategy call to Ferrari and being completely overruled or ignored.
It happened again on Saturday, as he failed to advance to the final portion of qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix, finishing 11th.
The conditions were tricky and ripe for a gamble, as a drying track presented a choice between a dry tyre (slicks) or the intermediate wet tyre. Leclerc went out on the intermediate but quickly told Ferrari the track felt good enough for slicks. One message was broadcast on the world TV feed. Ferrari denied his request and it turned out to be the wrong call.
Many in the paddock want to see a rougher edge to Leclerc, a willingness to put his foot down and trust his instinct. Ferrari fans must have been begging him to do just that as he told the team he felt the conditions were right for dries. He surely has the gravitas within the team to do so. After all, Leclerc is Ferrari's prodigal son, whose five-year contract extension (an almost unheard of contract length in F1) in 2019 proved how the company views him as the man to end its long wait for a championship.
When asked by ESPN on Saturday why he can't just overrule his team in that situation, he replied: "I clearly said my opinion, more than that I can't really do."
It's a shame Leclerc did not directly answer this question. Most likely the tyres would not have been ready, but Leclerc simply driving into the pit-lane and forcing Ferrari to go and get them would have been the ultimate power move.
He added: "I had a clear opinion. We decided to do something else. I am frustrated."
It must be said that Ferrari was not alone in misjudging the conditions this time. F1 strategy calls are never perfect, especially those on a knife-edge like they were on Saturday afternoon, when the track conditions kept swapping sides of the line between being ideal for slicks and being ideal for inters. Some, like Williams' Alex Albon, who went straight out on the soft tyre, got it right and advanced to Q3 to continue his remarkable recent form. Others, like Red Bull's Sergio Perez, who failed to make Q3 for the third straight race, later said he was never quite on the right tyre at the right time. The same was true of Leclerc.
But this is all part of a pattern with Ferrari. Last year, Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz raised eyebrows when he questioned why the media repeatedly criticises Ferrari's strategy and not its rivals. The obvious answer Sainz seemed to be ignoring was that Ferrari has made so many blunders over the past few years they have a tendency to blend into one. The frequency of their gaffes has become an internet meme and led to the removal of strategy chief Inaki Rueda earlier this year, but despite that change the blunders have not gone away.
Leclerc said he will discuss the incident with Ferrari but seemed to be holding back from expressing just how frustrated he was.
"There was no clearer way of me expressing myself this time," he said. "I will speak internally with the team and try to understand what we can do. It's obviously not the first time in those situations that we are on the wrong side.
"I don't want to comment on it too much. But we have to be better than that, we can't afford to do those mistakes again."
It's always interesting to compare the dynamic between Leclerc and his race engineer, Xavi Marcos Padros, to either Max Verstappen and Gianpietro Lambiase or Lewis Hamilton and Peter Bonnington. Neither Verstappen or Hamilton back down from an in-race verbal confrontation with their race engineers when they are convinced they are right and the engineers on the pit wall are wrong.
That doesn't mean Verstappen and Hamilton are always right when they do so, but they argue their case in a way we rarely here from Leclerc. Leclerc's exchanges with Padros seem more passive in comparison and this seems to be one obvious area that Ferrari can improve on.
We saw a good example of Verstappen backing himself at the Spanish Grand Prix when he ignored Lambiase's pleas to stay within the white lines of the race track and not risk his healthy lead by pushing for the single point on offer for fastest lap. Verstappen did it anyway. During a media session earlier this week the Dutchman said he and Lambiase laughed about the tense exchange after the race. Verstappen had backed himself and got the job done. It's not a perfect comparison to what happened to Leclerc on Saturday afternoon in Montreal but showed just how different that driver-race engineer dynamic is from one team to another.
As the old saying goes, it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. Leclerc needs to take a leaf out of the reigning world champion's book and put his foot down more often when he feels like he's in the right.