‘Ferrari didn’t do a bad job, Red Bull just made twice as big a step’

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc not happy. Miami May 2023

Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari garage, not happy. Miami May 2023

Insisting it’s “too early” to level judgement against Ferrari’s car concept, Charles Leclerc believes the Scuderia didn’t do a bad job with the SF-23, Red Bull just did a better one.

Last season it was claimed Ferrari had the fastest car on the grid, only for the Italian team to have to turn down the engines mid-season after one too many reliability issues.

Limping home in second place in the championships but with race wins on the board for the first time since 2019, Ferrari went into this season’s campaign believing they’d challenge Red Bull for the World titles.

Instead they’ve yet to even fight for a race win with Leclerc’s P3 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix the Scuderia’s only podium result of this season.

“Well, honestly, the car [is] doing exactly what we expected it to do, so it’s not like we did a bad job [or] we didn’t arrive to our expectations,” he said.

“But unfortunately, Red Bull did twice [as much of] a step compared to us, so I think it’s more where we fixed the targets than anything else.”

Ferrari have scored just 78 points this season with Red Bull already on 224.

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Leclerc warns it won’t be a ‘short-term’ fix

While Ferrari have struggled to reach the podium, Red Bull have cruised to five wins in five races, four of which have been 1-2 results.

Easily 20 seconds up the road from the nearest non-Red Bull driver in four of those five races, Red Bull are romping towards yet another championship double.

It has Ferrari questioning what they can do to narrow the deficit, both on the track and in the standings.

Leclerc is confident they now have an understanding of where they are lacking compared to the Milton Keynes’ squad and can tackle that.

But, he warns, it won’t be a short-term fix.

“There are a few things that we’ve realised that should look much better for the future, and that gives me confidence for the future,” he said, “and now I understand a bit more why we are here now.

“I’m confident for the future, probably not for the short-term, because the gap to Red Bull is significant, but I am sure that we will come back.

“I don’t want to give a timeframe, but we’ll work as hard as possible for it to be quickly as possible.”

Leclerc downplays talk of a B-spec rumours

Ferrari’s lack of pace compared to the RB19 has led to suggestions a B-spec car could be on the horizon with Aston Martin’s Dan Fallows warning if they go down that route it needs to be sooner rather than later.

However, team boss Fred Vasseur has ruled this out – partially because the budget cap makes it difficult, but also because he doesn’t believe the SF-23’s concept is a bad one.

Leclerc agrees with his new team boss on this one with the Monégasque driver saying it’s too soon to throw this current philosophy away.

“For the car concept, we are looking into it,” he said. “It is still too early to take conclusions out of it.

“It hasn’t worked the way we wanted, but that doesn’t mean we need to change completely from now.

“But we have some ideas on where we need to work on [to catch Red Bull].”