Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Red Bull ‘very strong’, Ferrari ‘struggling in corners’ with lower-drag car says Leclerc

2023 F1 season

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Charles Leclerc says Ferrari have “got some work to do” and rivals Red Bull look “very strong” ahead of next week’s season-opening race.

Ferrari have attempted to improve the straight-line performance of their car compared to last year. Leclerc believes they have been successful, but it has compromised other areas of their performance which they now need to improve.

“I think it was done in the right way and I think we have a less draggy car, so that should be better this year,” Leclerc told media including RaceFans in Bahrain today. “But it changed all the characteristics – all in line with what we expected – but we still need to find the right set-up for these new characteristics.”

“I expect us to be a bit quicker in the straights, maybe struggling a little bit more in the corners,” he added. “With this three days test, I can say that we are still working quite a bit on trying to find the sweet spot of the car in terms of set-up. So there’s, I hope, some margin on that still that we haven’t found the sweet spot yet.”

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Leclerc set the fastest time of the test so far in the first half of the final day of running. He has completed his pre-season testing allocation.

“We’ve had a very intense three days of testing,” he explained. “It’s not done yet, we still have some tests to do in the afternoon.

“The first day was all about doing big scans and trying to understand how well the data is matching with the ones we had at the factory prior to the test. They were matching pretty well, which was good news.

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“Yesterday, we had a bit of a difficult day trying to find the right set-up of the car. This morning was a little bit better, but still some work to do.”

The team’s new SF-23 needs to be handled somewhat differently to its predecessor, Leclerc added. “It is a different car. You need to drive it a little bit differently, but that’s what testing is for.

“I’ve been trying a lot of different driving styles. I seem to have found my way a little bit this morning, finally. But, as I said, we still have some work to do.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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