Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Ferrari ‘not as bad as the championship looks’ – Leclerc

2019 Spanish Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari is more competitive than the first four races of the 2019 F1 season have indicated.

The team lies 74 points adrift of Mercedes in the constructors championship after their rivals finished one-two in the first four races. However Leclerc believes they had the potential to score more and said “performance-wise, there is more to come.”

“I don’t think it is as bad as the championship looks,” he said. “Obviously we have had two opportunities, once I did a mistake, on the other one we had an issue that cost us a better result. But overall I think the performance is there we just need to try to put everything together in most of the occasions to be using our full potential.”

Ferrari ran strongly in pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, the venue for this weekend’s race, but Leclerc believes the extent of their advantage over Mercedes at that point was exaggerated.

“I think Mercedes were not that far [behind] even in testing in Barcelona. The last day [was] the only day where they actually pushed a little bit and in the last laps they did a very similar lap time to ours.

“So I don’t think they were ever very far away, and we don’t even know how much they pushed in the last day of testing. It’s not right to say that we were a lot for ahead after testing.

“Hopefully the improvements we’ve brought here put us a step forward and then we’ll see for the rest of the season. Normally Barcelona is quite representative track for the performance of the car so hopefully we’re strong here.”

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19 comments on “Ferrari ‘not as bad as the championship looks’ – Leclerc”

  1. Well won’t that be music to Toto Wolff’s ears, and a halting screech for his naysayers?

    Leclerc’s not wrong, let’s hope for all (most?) our sakes, they start proving it from this weekend and join the fight for wins and championships.

  2. Fool me once, fool me twice, fool me five times? I’m not biting.

    Bottas or Hamilton? I’d be more than happy to be wrong…

  3. Of course, he’s correct… but some insist on only seeing the end result & are convinced that the season has been a wrap since race 2…

    1. Why is he of course correct? Why is it such an assumption that Ferrari are better than they look in the results? It was also an assumption that they would have the advantage in Baku, it was also an assumption that they would be pace setters in Australia… When they’re saying the same thing week in week out why should we assume so blindly now that they are better than they look?

      Don’t get me wrong I’d love a more competitive championship, but to just say “of course” he has to be correct for no real reason is just annoying.

      1. @skipgamer – Completely agreed.

        In addition to that, @Aldoid, the reason that “some insist on only seeing the end result…” is because that is where points are awarded. Even if Ferrari were destroying every lap of every race but losing it on the final lap, it wouldn’t matter.

    2. Hmm, I only saw Ferrari having Mercedes-like dominance in Bahrain. They might have sneaked in a pole at Baku (maybe), but their race pace was quite poor, and they would have been harried by the Silver Arrows at Baku.

      Leclerc himself is impressing, but I need to see more out of Ferrari’s car, their strategists, and – obviously – their putative #1 driver before I’m convinced otherwise.

  4. The problem is, even if Leclerc is right and they split the season from here out, Merc has quite a lead. So Ferrari not only have to keep even with Mercedes, but Ferrari also have to be 100% reliable from here out and they will likely need to out-develop Mercedes or get lucky with some Merc troubles (DNF, bad setups) to even have a chance. And neither poor reliability nor poor development are common themes at Mercedes.

    Basically, in my opinion, it’s out of Ferrari’s hands at this point. Even if they do everything brilliantly for the rest of the season, they need Mercedes to stumble.

  5. Leclerc is right.

    Ferrari had the quickest car in Bahrain & possibly Baku. The speed is there but the drivers need to stop making howling mistakes

  6. I also think this is a key quote:

    So I don’t think [Mercedes] were ever very far away, and we don’t even know how much they pushed in the last day of testing. It’s not right to say that we were a lot for ahead after testing.

    I think people have been saying Ferrari has a faster car based largely on pre-season testing. And even Leclerc has admitted that makes no sense.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      9th May 2019, 17:42

      @hobo In Bahrain they was much faster and in Baku, Leclerc looked much faster too.

      So yes, pre season testing combined with those two weekends.

      1. @f1osaurus – Except pre-season testing doesn’t matter. Especially given Mercedes M.O. since 2014 at least of not wringing performance out of the car during testing.

        Bahrain was Ferrari’s best performance so far, but even then they didn’t get the cars home first. THAT is the problem. Even when Ferrari is stronger on a given weekend, they still haven’t been able to do anything but lose points to Mercedes. I disagree that they were faster in Baku, as they couldn’t get it done in qualifying. But even if they were faster, they still lost points.

        So feel free to say that Ferrari is better, or has the better car, or faster car, or anything you want. None of that matters so far because they’ve done nothing but lose every race so far. So now they are in the position where they cannot even be as good as Mercedes, they have to beat Mercedes regularly. No small task.

        1. Let me be clear so it is not misconstrued, lap times for Mercedes in pre-season testing do not matter. Because they are dead reliable, put in tons of mileage, and come out very fast every year.

        2. F1oSaurus (@)
          10th May 2019, 16:49

          @hobo Again, the fact that they UNDERPERFORMED does not mean the car is slow. It’s the whole point of UNDERPERFORMING that they look slower than they are.

          1. @f1osaurus – I see what you are saying just fine, with or without the caps. I understand your point. I disagree with you. And I’ve given data to support my position, and will do so again below. All I have seen from you is belief that the team principles are making claims—based on data they don’t share. If you have other proof, feel free.

            Here’s the deal. In my opinion, practice times do not matter at all. They are interesting and can perhaps give insight into a team’s/car’s/driver’s potential. But at the end of it, it counts for nothing. All that matters is the race and to some extent qualifying as that directly influences the race. (Here it may be tempting to say that practice influences setups, which influences qualifying, therefore practice matters. Fine. But lap times in practice don’t.)

            So, your position is that Ferrari has a better or faster (or both?) car and has just underperformed thus far. My position is that Ferrari has no such advantage. They may very well be underperforming, but nothing indicates to me that underperformance is their problem and without it they would be ahead or even with Mercedes. Here’s why I think that to be the case.

            A. In every race so far (with Bahrain qualifying the exception, which I will get to below) Mercedes has qualified 1-2. Meanwhile Ferrari has qualified 3-5, 3-4, and 3-9. In Bahrain that was swapped with Ferrari 1-2 and Mercedes 3-4—again, this will be discussed further in B.

            B. At no point in qualifying did Ferrari post a slower time in Q3 than in Q2. Maybe they weren’t able to extract a perfect lap, but that’s rare anyway. Let’s look at the time gaps. I looked at the gaps between the top driver on the lead team and the top driver on the second team (e.g. Hamilton vs Vettel in Australia) as well as between the second driver on the lead team and the top driver on the second team (e.g. Bottas vs Vettel in Australia). That way you can see the gap between the teams’ best on that day, and also how far behind the second team was.
            In Australia: HAM to VET was .7sec; BOT to VET was .6
            In Bahrain: LEC to HAM was .33sec; VET to HAM was .03
            In China: BOT to VET was .3sec; HAM to VET was .28
            In Azerbaijan: BOT to VET was .3; HAM to VET was .25

            What that indicates to me is that in qualifying Mercedes is consistently ahead of even the best performing Ferrari. The second-best Merc is very close to the leading Merc, which makes it seem like that is about as good as they could do.
            One could argue that VET underperformed in Bahrain as LEC got the same car 3 tenths of a second faster in Q3. I think that’s fair. You could conversely say that LEC underperformed in Australia (2.5 tenths down) in Q3. But they were dead even in China, and Baku is sadly lost. I think it is one thing to say that on any given weekend, one Ferrari is underperforming. It is an entirely different thing to say that both Ferraris are underperforming and that they are faster then they appear. There is no data showing that they could have made up 7 tenths in Australia or even 3 tenths in China.

            And even in Bahrain, Hamilton caught and passed Vettel. So in 1 instance of 8 (Leclerc in Bahrain—2 cars per race) was Ferrari faster that Mercedes. They couldn’t catch Merc in Aus, China, or Baku. If they were legitimately faster, with the DRS available in at least China and Baku, one would think it would have been a relatively easy pass.

            C. In every race so far (with no exceptions), Mercedes has finished 1-2 and Ferrari has finished either 4-5 or 3-5. So not only is Ferrari unable to beat Merc, they are unable to beat Verstappen either. To me that is not underperformance. That is performance not on par with the fastest or best car, which right now is the Merc.

          2. Wanted to clarify a point in B that I was not explicit about. Given qualifying results, gaps, and race results, is it more likely that Ferrari has the better/faster car and that both Ferraris have underperformed, in every instance barring Leclerc qualifying in Bahrain? (Meaning in every Q3 and every race, both Ferraris have performed significantly below their car’s potential, with one exception.)

            Or is it more likely that Ferrari are behind Mercedes and, aside from the Bahrain weekend setting (whether it was track surface, track temps, air temps, etc.) suiting the Ferrari better, Ferrari are unable to put in the laps that Mercedes can?

            I lean to the latter. I understand you disagree.

          3. F1oSaurus (@)
            10th May 2019, 19:54

            @hobo You have not given any “data”. You have no data.

            The people who actually have the data, they agree with me. So yeah.

  7. Ferrari is indeed the fastest car this season. Of cause reliability and driver’s mistake are part of f1 racing, which have possibly cost 2 wins out of Leclerc’s reach. Leclerc seems to be more adaptable and demonstrated speed on this year’s Ferrari while Vettel wasn’t so confident with the car.

    1. What makes you think Ferrari have the fastest car? Apart from Bahrain, Mercedes have dominated. In fact, Hamilton’s second stint in Bahrain on harder tyres was faster than on of the Ferraris.

  8. I think it best to just take one race at a time, like we have any other choice anyway. We’ll obviously just have to see as each race unfolds, what transpires.

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