Despite Ferrari finishing second and third to Max Verstappen in Friday’s FP2 in Miami, Charles Leclerc does not believe they have the pace to challenge Red Bull in Sunday’s grand prix.
Leclerc had a mixed Friday at the Miami International Autodrome where the five-time grand prix winner was third fastest in both sessions. However, he blotted his copybook with a crash late in the second session with the driver into the barriers at Turn Eight.
Losing control of his SF-23 in the midst of a tank-slapper, he hit the barrier hard and wrecked his front suspension.
The rear of the car, though, escaped damage on a day when Ferrari were running an upgraded floor and diffuser.
Leclerc concedes it was driver error as he pushed too hard.
“There’s not much too talk about,” he told the official F1 website. “I pushed too much.
“Apart from that I think the feeling is pretty good over one lap, but over the race we are so far behind.
“Red Bull is again in a league of it’s own, but very far in front.
“So in the race we have a lot of time to find but in qualifying, we are more or less there.”
Last time out at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, although Leclerc claimed pole position for both the sprint race and the grand prix, the driver wasn’t able to hold off the Red Bulls in the races.
He doesn’t believe Ferrari, despite their Miami upgrades, have yet found the long run pace to match Red Bull never mind keep them at bay.
Asked what, if anything, Ferrari could do to close the gap to Red Bull on long races, the Monégasque driver was pragmatic in his answer.
“I don’t think we have any miracle in hand to close the gap, so I don’t think we’ll be much closer come Sunday.”
As for his crash on Friday, he says he lost the rear after getting off-line on the slippery asphalt.
“Overall it is very, very tricky because there’s only one line and when you get off-line there is really poor grip,” he said. “That’s basically what happened.
“I pushed a bit too much lost the rear, tried to recover from it, but I had no grip to turn the car.
“There’s no big damage, obviously the front but apart from that no damage to the rear of the car, which is the most important.
“Tomorrow is another day and I’m sure it will go well.”