Charles Leclerc makes worrying F1 pecking order prediction ahead of Chinese GP comeback

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc speaks at his ice cream brand launch.

Charles Leclerc launched his own brand of ice cream between the Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix.

Charles Leclerc has predicted another weekend where “Red Bull still have the upper hand” at the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix.

While Ferrari broke Red Bull’s monopoly on the top step with a 1-2 finish in Australia, Max Verstappen has won all three of the races he has finished so far this season, with the Scuderia establishing themselves as the second quickest team in 2024.

Charles Leclerc makes Red Bull pace prediction for Chinese Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads back to Shanghai for the first time since 2019 this weekend and for the first Sprint race of the season, with the Ferrari driver admitting the weekend will be “even more of a challenge” as a result of the lack of practice time.

“It’s going to be an interesting weekend,” Leclerc told media at Suzuka after the chequered flag in Japan.

“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.

“It’s even more of a challenge because qualifying now is a point I need to focus on for putting the tyres in the right window.

“So I’ll have two qualifying [sessions] in Shanghai, two chances to recover well.”

When asked about where he thinks Ferrari will stand in the pecking order, he added: “I don’t know, I think the picture will be relatively similar to where it is here, where Red Bull still have the upper hand.

“We are the second best team and then the others, but McLaren wasn’t bad, [they were] really good today and was very close actually to us. So they are not that far [behind]. Let’s see.” recommends

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Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz added his belief that Red Bull are likely to maintain an advantage over the rest of the field for the foreseeable rounds, given the innate pace within the RB20.

With the Scuderia having upgrades in the pipeline, they will look to have more weekends like they had in Melbourne to have a chance at more victories.

Sainz said of Red Bull: “I think they are definitely going to have an advantage in the first third of the season until we bring one or two upgrades that makes us fight them more consistently, but by that time maybe it’s a bit too late with the advantage that they might have on the championship.

“In the meantime, we need more Australias! Which I don’t see Red Bull, as a team, making these mistakes very often, no. A shame, because also I missed a race, which for both the team and me, it could be costly in the championship.

“We’re competing in one race less, but at the same time, we’re going to give it our best shot. It’s my last year in Ferrari also, so yeah, nothing to lose and we will try everything to make it back.”

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