Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Losail International Circuit, 2023

Ferrari on course to make “significant step” to Red Bull in 2024 – Leclerc

Formula 1

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Charles Leclerc is confident that Ferrari can make a “significant step” next year with a drastically different car.

Ferrari fought Red Bull for victories in the early phase of last season but have struggled all year to challenge the champions in 2023, taking just a single victory for Carlos Sainz Jnr in Singapore with Red Bull winning all 15 of the other grands prix.

After an improvement in form since the season resumed after the summer break, Leclerc says that Ferrari have gained a lot of knowledge about their car that gives him optimism for the future.

“On one side, you always need to look at yourself and I think since the second part of the season, since Zandvoort, we’ve learnt a lot – so on that we are happy,” Leclerc told media including RaceFans.

“Then of course we understand also that Red Bull is still very far ahead, McLaren also has its peak and when they have that peak they are extremely strong, like they were in Suzuka. But all in all I think we are more happy with what we’ve learnt than depressed with the distance to Red Bull. Because I think with what we learn, we can do a significant step in the future, which hopefully will help us to close the gap to Red Bull as soon as possible.”

Earlier this year Leclerc said he was concerned no team would catch Red Bull before F1 introduces new technical regulations in 2026.

Following his team mate Sainz’s win in Singapore, Leclerc was the stronger Ferrari driver at the last round of the season in Japan, finishing behind the two McLarens in fourth place. Leclerc says he expects his performance to fluctuate over the remaining rounds due to the nature of Ferrari’s SF-23.

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“It’s been like this since the beginning of the season,” he explained. “Sometimes tracks work a little bit better, others a little bit less.

“I wouldn’t say that [Japan] was a breakthrough – in that from that moment onwards it will help – because the issues of the car are still there. I think we need maybe a completely new car for it to get rid of it. And that is a target for next year.”

Leclerc says he has been working “quite a bit” on adapting his driving style to extract as much performance from his car despite its balance issues.

“At the moment our car, it’s not that it cannot be oversteery – we can set it up as any car on the oversteery side – but whenever it’s oversteery, it’s extremely inconsistent,” he explained. “So we have to drive it on the understeery side. And that makes it quite difficult for me to use my driving style in order to extract lap time.

“I tried to improve and to understand what are the ways for me to use my driving style in a different way. It worked a bit more in Japan, but I wouldn’t say it will make a huge difference for the rest of the year.”

After joining Ferrari at the end of 2022, team principal Frederic Vasseur has spent his first season at the helm of the team implementing structural changes to Ferrari with long-term success in mind. Leclerc says the famously unflappable Vasseur is what Ferrari need at this current phase of time.

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“I mean Fred is super-flat emotionally – which I think is really good in the position he’s in,” said Leclerc.

“I think as an Italian team and as Ferrari, this is what I love most about Ferrari is the emotions that we feel whenever we are at highs and how passionate the people are. But to have this balance with Fred, I think is also really good.

“To have a clear vision when things are going wrong and also when things are going very strong, that’s not it. We still need to work very hard. And I think we kind of had already that philosophy. But I think Fred has strengthened it and that’s that’s really good.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
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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7 comments on “Ferrari on course to make “significant step” to Red Bull in 2024 – Leclerc”

  1. Usually Ferrari gets our hopes up during pre season testing. They’re a bit early this year?

    Does that mean they’ll shatter our hopes also a bit earlier?

  2. Yeah that’s great but can they pull off an ordinary pit stop? Ferrari’s mistakes run too deep for them to resurface at the front next year. I put them in the top four only until they make some major changes.

    1. Please, get your facts straight. Their pit stops have massively improved this year compared to last year. They had the fastest pit stop at a couple of GPs and are fighting with McLaren and Red Bull for the best pit stops in 2023. Just look at the stats:

      1. @wallbreaker This is true. Ferrari will need to improve their stop consistency, though, since Red Bull are particularly consistent at it and there have been a few unfortunate howlers from the team in red.

  3. I really do hope so.
    The action behind Max is very entertaining this season, but we really need to see some fights at the front for the win.

  4. I’ll believe when I see it. We’ll see if the team can stop blowing pit stops and strategy + Charles and Carlos can stop crashing all the time in practice, quali and races too. Sainz, at least, is making progress on that front.

  5. I read that as ‘Leclerc on course to make “significant step” to Red Bull in 2024?’
    That would actually make a lot of sense. He’s a team player who knows how to get results.

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