Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

Ferrari are “struggling more than I expected” this year, Leclerc admits

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Charles Leclerc admitted Ferrari’s season is going worse than he feared after failing to score in the Spanish Grand Prix.

He went into today’s race at a disadvantage as he started in the pit lane following set-up changes to his car. Leclerc qualified a lowly 19th after reporting a strange handling problem in qualifying which led his team to replace the rear end of his SF-23.

He took the chequered flag in 12th place and was promoted one position by Yuki Tsunoda’s penalty. It is the third time in seven grands prix this year he has failed to score.

“To be honest we are struggling more than what I expected,” he admitted in response to a question from RaceFans at Circuit de Catalunya today.

Race start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Spanish Grand Prix in pictures
“We’ve had quite a few disappointing days this year, so unfortunately it’s just in line with the rest of the year,” he added.

The team introduced an upgrade to its car this weekend which was intended to reduce the ‘peakiness’ of the car’s performance. However Leclerc found his car’s handling varied considerably over two stints on the hard compound tyre.

“The first stint we had the hard, which we expected to be a good tyre, but for some reason it was so bad. Like, no grip at all, especially from the front. The limitations were completely different to qualifying, today we were more expecting this, but then for some reason the second hard [tyre] I just do exactly the same thing and it feels really good.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“So for some reason we seem to never really get in the right window of the tyre and when we do, it’s a bit of a surprise to us. So there’s a lot of work we need to do.”

Leclerc said the tyres are extremely sensitive to differences of just a few degrees in temperature. “The temperature came, but also the graining came more than the temperatures,” he said. “So it was just understeering like crazy.”

There was some improvement in his car’s handling over the race, said Leclerc. “The second and last stint, the feeling was more where it should be, at least. There it felt a little better.

“But still overall we are lacking a lot of performance especially in the race again.”

“I think where we really need to put all our focus is to try and be more often at the peak of our tyres and know how to manage them better,” he added. “Two or three degrees makes a huge difference on balance, and this weekend we’ve been struggling getting completely in the window and be happy with the car. So there will be a lot of work on that.”

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

    Browse all 2023 Spanish Grand Prix articles

    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...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    8 comments on “Ferrari are “struggling more than I expected” this year, Leclerc admits”

    1. “A new high on sport comedy series”
      “Episode after episode S15 of SFS is getting better.”
      “I totally forgot this show existed but S15 got me hooked.”
      “Don’t let the high number of seasons fool you.”
      “Netflix beater.”

    2. Leclerc said the tyres are extremely sensitive to differences of just a few degrees in temperature.

      Spec parts everyone is forced to use shouldn’t be like this.

      1. Been like this always with Pirelli. They’re Goldilocks tyres in which you need to have them just right or else you lose more performance than any speed based upgrade can give.

        Mercedes had their worst weekend performance wise in the hybrid Ham-Ros years at Singapore 2015 where they could not make the tyres work despite the Mercedes clearly being the best car by a mile.

        1. Very true, it’s baffling F1 teams put up with this.

          Every year Pirelli says they’re making tyres with a wider operating window and every year they fail to deliver on that promise.

    3. That’s funny, they are struggling just about as much as I expected.

    4. The tyres… an old and very tricky problem for Ferrari. It seems that the performance of their WEC prototype is hampered by the same issue, at least in some races.

    5. I just can’t understand why the development during the season seems so weak at Ferrari compared to the other top teams. Red Bull had a rocket ship but somehow still seem to find another warp level during seasons, Mercedes had a terrible concept but are able to turn it around. It’s not that they can spend millions more (Red Bull even less so, because they seem to spend a lot of money on catering :-)).

      1. Their car concept was strong (even if Red Bull’s early 2022 issues, from technical DNFs to being overweight flattered Ferrari), but was also the most impacted by Mercedes’ scheming to get the floors raised. Given that development on the 2023 car started before Binotto was shown the door, a lot of the conceptual weaknesses of that design – especially with the adjusted technical regulations – probably continue to limit the scope for development.

        Plus the Ferrari cars seem weak on mechanical grip. They keep having significant tyre issues that lead to a massive loss of pace during the race. Contrast with the Red Bull, which can seemingly just keep going and going.

    Comments are closed.