On Thursdays in Barcelona, Ferrari’s updates take center stage. When the pits opened in front of the Ferrari garage, many photographers were stationed to immortalize the changes that we will see on the two SF-23s, but for now Charles Leclerc is not overwhelmed.
The Monegasque spoke of a first step, which will serve to improve but also to better understand the single-seater in view of other innovations expected in the next races. “We don’t expect big miracles, to be honest. The plan is to bring some small updates to each race, and this approach I think should go in the right direction. But I don’t think we’ll see a huge change this weekend.”
What do you think are the areas where there is a need for intervention?
“At the moment we have a nervous car that performs well on a flying lap with new tyres. But when we get out of these specific conditions it loses a lot of downforce. We worked a lot on this aspect, the goal is to be more consistent throughout the weekend and obviously we hope it will help us get a better result on Sunday”.
Do you think it’s important to have good feedback on a recognized and very reliable track like Barcelona?
“Yes, it’s very important, above all because Barcelona is known to be probably the best track to understand exactly the level of competitiveness of a single-seater. So I think it is very useful for us to have updates on this circuit, we will be able to evaluate how it works and understand where our weak points are. We know we need to work mainly on race pace and car handling, and I think this is a perfect track to see if our update is going in the right direction or not.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Erik Junius
Have you spoken to the Monaco weekend team? Not everything went smoothly on some fronts, such as communications and strategy. Do you think there are recurring problems that need to be addressed?
“I don’t think they are recurring. Strategy was a front where we definitely struggled last year, and we were all aware that it was one of our weaknesses, but we made some changes and I’m happy with how it’s going. Then there may be races where not everything goes as well as in others, if I evaluate my race in Monaco I’m happy with how we managed it. Choices were made that I would change in hindsight, but when I look at the moment when the decisions were made, I think it was the right thing to do. Then there was a mistake in qualifying, an episode that we looked into so it doesn’t happen again.”
“In general so far this season has been strange in terms of clean and normal weekends, we haven’t been able to put together weekends where everything has been perfect. Especially at the beginning of the year we have found ourselves in good positions, but for a reason or another, we lost quite a lot of points. In Baku we had the only clean weekend of the season, and we brought home a good haul in terms of points, so I can’t wait for circuits traditional in the hope of having linear weekends and, hopefully, of taking back the results we need ”.
You know Fred well, you have already worked with him in the past. What changes has it brought to the team so far? Has there been a big change since he arrived?
“His entry into the team was fluid, he didn’t come asking for big changes right away, and I think that’s what we need. We need small steps forward that go in the right direction, also in terms of way of thinking. Personally I think it’s great, he was very clear in wanting to strengthen the team with the acquisition of new people, an important factor to be able to have a different point of view that comes from other teams. I’ve always had a fantastic relationship with Fred, we’ve worked together in the junior categories, so he knows me very, very well. And he’s also very honest, which I like and which I’m sure will help me in the long run.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Erik Junius
Fred commented on some of the criticisms you and Carlos made while on the track, confirming that they are magnified by the high-voltage context you are in. He revealed that when you are in the briefing then your vision changes …
“We have to consider that we are experiencing a disappointing start to the season, last year the first part of the championship was very promising and in the end we still finished second. We are further away today, and obviously there are a lot of criticisms around the team, but we just have to focus on our work and try to improve the car as much as possible. From the outside everything looks bigger than what it actually is inside the team. But at the same time we can’t hide, in the race we are very far from Red Bull. I don’t think we need to re-found everything, no, I don’t think it’s that bad, because in qualifying we have a good car, we know what the problems are in the race and we’re working on it.”
Did you understand what caused this difference between the performances we see on Saturday and Sunday?
“Let’s say that with the update we bring to the track this week we should have a better understanding. For a long time we didn’t understand what this gap was due to, but now the situation is clearer”.
What are your goals this weekend?
“You can hope for a podium, but not for victory. At the moment Red Bull are in another championship in terms of race pace, so if nothing happens to them then I don’t think it’s realistic for now to hope we can beat them.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Photo by: Ferrari