Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr both say they hope to be the closest team to Red Bull in Singapore despite it being a higher downforce circuit.
This weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix will take place on the high downforce street circuit at Marina Bay, a very different track to the long straights and quick corners of Monza, which leaves Leclerc cautious about Ferrari’s ability to repeat their performance from Italy.
“We learned plenty during Monza, especially about our weaknesses,” said Leclerc.
“It confirmed that we were stronger on low-downforce tracks, [so] obviously here it’s going to be a bit more of a difficult weekend for us. But there might be a few things that will help us here. After Monza, we understood more things which are good for this year, even though it will be a small step in the right direction, but mostly for designing next year’s car, which is positive.”
Leclerc admits he expects Ferrari’s rivals will be much closer to them in Singapore than they were in Monza.
“It’s quite difficult to get from one weekend in Monza where we are fighting for third position and we are clearly the second-strongest team on track to a weekend like this where we need to reset a little bit and where it will be much closer,” he said. “At least with Mercedes, with McLaren, with also Aston Martin. So we just need to reset a little bit more.
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“It changes so quickly. The tendency seems that whenever we are at low downforce tracks, we are always strong. On high downforce, it’s a bit more inconsistent. It’s one of my favourite tracks though, so I hope we can be at least the second-strongest team.”
Leclerc’s team mate Sainz agrees that the higher downforce demands of Marina Bay will not naturally suit their package for this season.
“We are realistic and theory says that we should not be as quick as Monza,” Sainz admitted. “Normally, up until now, all the high downforce races we’ve struggled a bit more than the low downforce ones.
“Here there are not long combined corners, there are more sharp apexes where our car tends to suffer a bit less. But at the same time, it will be hot, it will be tough on tyres, which we also know can be tricky for us, so let’s see. This year is going to be changing a lot race-to-race and we need to stay open minded.”
Sainz stormed to pole position in Monza, his first of the 2023 season, and finished third after holding off Leclerc at the finish. He later described it as his best weekend in a Ferrari.
“I’ve definitely felt good the last few races in the car,” he said. “We are starting to understand it a lot better and making sure that we put the car in the right place in FP1. It gives you confidence and it’s an easier build up.
“This year I feel like I understand the car a lot better and I’m driving better than last year. It’s just maybe the last two, three weekends I’ve managed to put everything together a bit more and it shows in the results. But the driving and the comfort in the car is good. Now, hopefully, in the second half of the season, my target is to be more consistent and just nail more results, nail more weekends, we can keep doing that like we did in Zandvoort and Monza.”
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2023 Singapore Grand Prix
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