Charles Leclerc has revealed the factor that is holding Ferrari back from showing their ultimate pace on occasion.
Ferrari have been mired in the group directly behind Red Bull for the entirety of 2023, fighting over the best-of-the-rest status with Mercedes, Aston Martin and, as of Silverstone, possibly the McLaren team.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have struggled for podium finishes this year, with the Scuderia occupying fourth-place overall – Leclerc has scored two podium finishes, while Sainz is still waiting on his first trip to the rostrum after 10 races.
Charles Leclerc reveals the major limiting factor for Ferrari’s SF-23
Speaking to the media in Hungary ahead of this weekend’s race in Budapest, Leclerc revealed that, once the wind picks up, the SF-23 doesn’t perform to the best of its abilities.
With some significant upgrades brought to the car in recent weeks, the Monegasque was asked about how the car is performing now that the changes have been introduced.
“It is going in the right direction,” he said.
“As we’ve seen in the last race at Silverstone, whenever the wind is really picking up on a Sunday, it’s one of our main weaknesses, but we did some steps forward. We know that we still need to improve on that.”
Moving from the high-speed sweeps of the former airfield of Silverstone to the confined claustrophobia of the tight and twisty Hungaroring, Leclerc is optimistic of a better result than the ninth and 10th he and Sainz claimed at the British Grand Prix.
“On paper, [the Hungaroring] fits our car a little bit more,” he said.
“But, every weekend, there seems to be a surprise by one or the other teams, so let’s see.”
Given the uncertainty of where Ferrari will be on any given weekend, particularly with their competitor teams yo-yo-ing in speed, Leclerc said it’s possible for the Scuderia to predict when things might be worse than usual.
“I think now we kind of understand when we are going to struggle,” he explained.
“Unfortunately, Silverstone was one of those. We knew that, on paper, it wasn’t going to be a great weekend for us.
“The Saturday went pretty well, considering what we expected. The Sunday went worse than what we expected but, again, we know why. The wind conditions are a big thing and for us, it has a big influence – probably bigger than any of the other cars on the grid.
“We just struggle with consistency in those situations. So we did a big step forward at the beginning of the year, it was quite a bit worse than that. But we still need to do some steps forward.
“It’s a continuous work since we identified this issue, which was quite a bit earlier in this season.
“I have no doubt that we will improve, then we need some time in order to make the parts and, obviously, for the engineers to find the best way to tackle that issue. But we’ve already seen the positive steps of going in that direction and now we just need to keep pushing.”
Charles Leclerc: Hungary is a track I haven’t been strong at in the past
The Hungaroring race last year was the scene of a particularly bad race for Ferrari as a strategic faux pas caused Leclerc to finish sixth from a third-place grid slot. But, asked whether he feels the venue is one where his luck hasn’t been in the past, Leclerc said last year was the first time he’d felt quick in Budapest.
“No, I don’t believe in bad luck,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s been a track where I’ve been particularly strong in the past. I think, last year, I had a good weekend but, obviously, we didn’t get the podium for many reasons.
“But I think the pace was there finally which, the year before, honestly, I don’t think I was doing a great job on this track. But I feel confident anyway that we should be good this weekend.”