Charles Leclerc gives Ferrari clear warning as rivals talk up Austria chances

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc looks on from the cockpit during Friday practice at the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2023.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc looks on from the cockpit during Friday practice at the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2023.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko are among those expecting a strong Ferrari in Austria, but Charles Leclerc is not getting ahead of himself.

It was the belief of Marko that Ferrari actually had the fastest car last time out at the Canadian Grand Prix, but with both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz starting out of position in P10 and P11 respectively, a P4/P5 result was the final extent of the recovery drive.

That meant Red Bull were in the clear to continue their dominant form in F1 2023, Max Verstappen taking his sixth win of the season as Red Bull made it eight from eight.

Charles Leclerc urges caution on Ferrari Canada pace

If Leclerc was to start in the top four in Austria though, where the sprint format is back for Red Bull’s outing on home soil, then Marko has tipped the Ferrari driver to make life very difficult indeed for Verstappen.

The Red Bull Ring is in fact the scene of Ferrari’s most recent victory, Leclerc having taken the chequered flag at the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.

Leclerc though will wait to see how that far improved showing in Canada translates into Austrian GP pace though before getting too excited, with Ferrari also preparing to unveil upgrades to the SF-23 for this event.

“We need to be cautious with drawing conclusions too early,” Leclerc warned as he spoke to reporters ahead of the race weekend.

“So yes, Canada has been positive, on the Sunday especially which is good to see, but we need to confirm that here and prove that now we are consistently good on the Sunday which is a bit what we were struggling with in the first part of the season where we are quite inconsistent come race days.

“So let’s see, but there’s been lots of work, we’ve got some new parts on the car too here, so let’s see how it goes.”

Asked if these new parts will be visible to the naked eye when the SF-23 is out on track, Leclerc replied: “Yeah. You will see them tomorrow.” recommends

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Charles Leclerc feels Ferrari progress on inconsistent SF-23

Leclerc would delve into further detail on how a lack of consistency has been making life challenging when at the wheel of the SF-23.

Through a single lap, Leclerc said the Ferrari challenger does feel rather consistent, Leclerc having already claimed a double pole position this season in Baku, the last time that the sprint format was in use.

But it is in race trim where Leclerc says the performance had a tendency to decline with the SF-23 ending up in a “very different place” to where it would start out.

“I think through the lap it’s actually quite okay,” he said on the subject of inconsistency for the SF-23.

“So we can see it, especially in qualifying when the conditions are quite stable, we go from new tyres to new tyres to new tyres, there we’re fine, but whenever we are in the race, with the tyre degradation especially, the car goes away a little bit and sometimes we just end the race run in a very different place to where we started and that makes the things a bit more complicated for us.

“But we are working on that and I feel like we are doing some steps in the right direction.”

Ferrari sit P4 in the Constructors’ Championship and are already 199 points behind runaway leaders Red Bull.

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