Mercedes and Aston Martin back on Ferrari radar as Charles Leclerc reveals key breakthrough

Sam Cooper
The Ferrari cars in Montreal. Canada, June 2023.

The Ferrari cars in Montreal. Canada, June 2023.

Carlos Sainz believes Ferrari are back to being able to compete with Aston Martin and Mercedes after a good race from the team.

In what has been a rare sight the last few years, Ferrari made a good strategy call to start both drivers on the medium tyre and ignore the option of a cheap pit stop under the safety car in favour of track position.

Both Sainz and team-mate Charles Leclerc were able to make those tyres last and ultimately finish P4 and P5.

Sainz, who started P11 after a three-place grid penalty for impeding in qualifying, rued their low grid spot as he believed they could have challenged Aston Martin and Mercedes.

“I think we had a strong race weekend,” he told Sky Sports F1. “It’s a pity about quali yesterday because I think today we would have been in the mix with Mercedes and the Aston.”

Leclerc, who started P10 due to a Ferrari blunder in quali with tyres, said the one thing that delighted him the most was that his data from Friday corresponded to the Sunday.

“Where I’m most happy is that the good feeling that I had on Friday during the race simulations was confirmed today,” he said. “And in any of the compounds we put on, whether it’s on the medium or on the hard, we were quite competitive and the feeling was good.”

But Leclerc said the next step for Ferrari was to improve pure performance as he revealed a setup change made him feel more comfortable with the SF-23.

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“I think it’s just overall performance,” he said when asked where Ferrari can improve. “We were really really struggling at the beginning of the season and it was very difficult to understand.

“We would go from a medium tyre which was quite okay to a soft or hard tyre and then the car would fall apart completely.

“I went in quite a different direction this weekend in terms of setup, I felt a bit more at ease, and that gave me a bit more consistency on our compounds.”

Following the race in Montreal, Ferrari trail P3 Aston Martin by 32 points in the Constructors’ standings.