Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2023

Leclerc pleased with Ferrari gains at Suzuka and has Red Bull in his sights

Formula 1

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Charles Leclerc is feeling positive about Ferrari’s chances of taking the fight to Red Bull this weekend after the latest changes to his car’s set-up gave him a better feeling while driving.

Ferrari has made progress with its car since the summer break. Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr took pole position for the last two races and ended Red Bull’s unbeaten run in Singapore.

However Leclerc admitted after last weekend’s race that he hasn’t been as comfortable in the Ferrari due to the changes made in order to make it handling more predictable. Following the first day of practice at Suzuka Leclerc said he is feeling more confident at the wheel.

“Today was a little bit better,” he said. “The last two or three races, I’ve always struggled a little bit with the balance of the car. Today I changed a little bit my driving style, went with the car a bit in my direction too, and it feels that the feeling is better.

“But obviously it’s only one day, so we need to keep pushing and hopefully do another step forward tomorrow.”

Leclerc used a new floor design on his car in both sessions today, which team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr ran for the first time in second practice. “It did what we expected it to do,” said Leclerc.

“It gave us a little bit of consistency, which was good to see. I don’t think there was a lot of performance in it, but let’s wait and see.”

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Having ended Friday practice closest to Max Verstappen’s pace, three-tenths of a second behind the Red Bull, Leclerc believes they have narrowed the gap to their rivals.

“Obviously we keep learning about this car. The last two or three races we learned a lot and now it’s about putting all of it together, which we did in Singapore.

“We need to do that here too. Red Bull seem to be extremely quick this weekend, but I don’t think we are so far off.”

However Leclerc accepts that even if Ferrari get the most out of their car, Red Bull may be too quick for them.

“We are understanding our car much better than we did before Zandvoort and that helps us to be on the good side of things,” he said. “Everything is so close with McLaren and Mercedes that whenever we put our car in the right window then we can be in front and that’s what we’ve done in the last few races.

“That’s what the target is for tomorrow. But even if we do everything perfect this weekend I expect Red Bull to be stronger, for sure.”

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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...

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3 comments on “Leclerc pleased with Ferrari gains at Suzuka and has Red Bull in his sights”

  1. My guess: They will probably match up RB’s up to Q3 and pole. But in the race they will burn up those rear tyres quicker than RB. We will see.

  2. Ferrari has two pilots that can win, this is their greatest advantage over RBR, and how they can keep Max behind ~8 seconds and take victory. Its going to be hard for Red Bull to pass the Ferrari, even with DRS, if Ferrari are faster coming out of Spoon corner.

  3. ooof, talk about aging well..
    I hope they scarified quali pace in favor of race pace

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