Recovering ground after last year’s fall from grace, Charles Leclerc says he “never really considered” that Ferrari had become F1’s laughing stock.
2020 was a horrendous season for Ferrari, the team managing just three podiums as they slumped to sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Initially Ferrari blamed the car, then they conceded that the engine and 2019’s Technical Directives had played a role, and all the while rival team bosses such as Toto Wolff made it known they had no sympathy for the Scuderia’s plight. Neither did pundits such as Martin Brundle.
This year, though, Ferrari are on the rebound, the team in the fight for third place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Leclerc and his team-mate Carlos Sainz made inroads on McLaren at the Spanish Grand Prix, closing the gap in the standings to just five points.
Asked if he felt the people were no longer ‘making fun’ of Ferrari, the Monégasque driver told Reuters: “I have never really considered people that have been laughing at us. We have been focusing on ourselves.
“Last year was definitely a difficult season to accept where we were but I think the team has done a great job by accepting pretty quickly that we took a step back and have been working in the best way possible since that moment.
“This year you can see that. The team has made a step in the right direction and it shows that all the work that people have done back in Maranello and at the track is paying off. We can see it on the track.
“The road is still long and we want to be fighting for the first positions soon. The way we work is the right way and we just need to keep working as a team.”
Leclerc, fourth on the day, moved to within a point of Lando Norris in the fight for P4.
The driver is feeling confident about his chances for the rest of the season, saying he doesn’t believe his 2021 Ferrari car, the SF21, has any “big weakness”.
“I don’t think there’s a big weakness like there was maybe a bit more last year on the race pace,” said Leclerc.
“I feel like this year it’s a lot more balanced and we are actually stronger in qualifying and in the race.”