Charles Leclerc is adjusting to life at Ferrari under a new boss, following the arrival of Fred Vasseur over the winter.
Following the disappointing fizzle out of Ferrari’s title challenge in 2022, team boss Mattia Binotto handed in his resignation after the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Rumours about his replacement turned out to be correct, as Alfa Romeo team boss Fred Vasseur was appointed in his place – the French team boss boasting strong motorsport pedigree through his leadership of the ART team in the junior categories, as well as establishing the Spark company that manufactures the chassis for Formula E.
After his first four races in charge of the Scuderia, there hasn’t been much to celebrate for Vasseur, as the team went without a podium finish from the opening three Grands Prix and suffered incidents and reliability issues that resulted in Charles Leclerc scoring just three points heading to Azerbaijan.
In Baku, Ferrari had a much stronger weekend as Leclerc scored pole position for both races. While unable to hold back the Red Bulls in the Grand Prix, Leclerc finally scored the team’s first podium of the year.
Charles Leclerc: Fred Vasseur can bring Ferrari back to the top
Leclerc, who made his F1 debut with Vasseur as his team boss as he joined the Alfa Romeo team in 2018, has voiced support for the new Ferrari boss, outlining Vasseur’s strengths as he slowly but surely moulds Ferrari in his image.
“Fred has a good medium and long-term vision for the team,” Leclerc told German publication Bild.
“I have no doubt that he is the one who can bring Ferrari back to the top. In his previous assignments, Fred has proven that he knows which screws to turn in order to be successful.”
Asked for specific details on what he means by that, Leclerc was reluctant to give away too much.
“It’s difficult to describe without giving away too many secrets,” he said.
“Of course, some things can also be seen from the outside – for example, if the car isn’t fast enough. But he has a good eye for what would work even better in the individual departments. He constantly analyses things and puts them to the test.”
Charles Leclerc: It’s going to take time to close up to Red Bull
While Ferrari started the new regulation cycle a step ahead of Red Bull, the Milton Keynes-based team quickly closed the gap and then sailed past the Maranello squad – helped by a technical directive brought in to target porpoising, with the resulting floor changes nerfing some of Ferrari’s performance.
With the Scuderia pushing hard to get back on terms with Red Bull, trading the position of second-fastest team with rivals Mercedes and Aston Martin, Leclerc said he’s confident the SF-23 can become a regular race winner by season end.
“We’re not at Red Bull’s level at the moment,” he admitted.
“They have a lead and we have a lot of work to do to close the gap. I can’t say how long that will take.
“But we’ve learned a lot about our car over the past few weeks and we’ve gotten a better understanding of it. We can now build on this basis bit by bit so that at some point we will be fighting for victories again. I am confident.”