Ferrari makes progress in Australia, Leclerc targets narrowing the gap to Red Bull
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc delivered the team’s strongest start to the 2023 Formula 1 season in Australia on Friday. Despite rain hindering progress in the second hour, Leclerc achieved the second-fastest time after finishing fifth in the initial session.
On Friday in Australia, Charles Leclerc received acclaim for providing Ferrari with their most impressive beginning to a weekend in the 2023 Formula 1 season thus far.
He managed to achieve the fifth fastest time in the initial session and went on to secure the second fastest time in the subsequent hour, before rain prevented any further improvements. Given Ferrari’s struggles in comprehending their challenging SF-23 vehicle in the early part of the season, the Italian outfit used the dry periods of the session to carry out tests.
Leclerc expressed his enthusiasm for the enhanced sensation he experienced while driving, in comparison to the first two races. The Monegasque driver is now aiming to implement the appropriate adjustments overnight to narrow the gap to Red Bull. He stated, “I believe that the feeling in the car is better than in the previous races, which is encouraging. This is perhaps our most promising FP2 of the season, although it doesn’t carry much weight, it’s still a Friday that concludes on a positive note.”
Leclerc emphasized the importance of continuing to work towards improvement and taking another step in the right direction for the upcoming qualifying session. He hopes that Ferrari will be able to close the gap to the Red Bulls, both during qualifying and the race. However, he acknowledged that due to the rain in FP2, no one was able to perform high fuel runs, making it challenging to predict race pace accurately. Leclerc hopes that in FP3, there will be an opportunity for more extended runs, allowing the team to learn more and make better-informed decisions for the race.
Despite Leclerc’s impressive qualifying performances in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Ferrari’s significant issues with tyre degradation prevented him from keeping up with the dominant Red Bull cars’ long-run pace in both races. Nevertheless, Leclerc is optimistic that the alterations made for this weekend’s race can enhance Ferrari’s competitive ability on Sunday.
Leclerc, who won last year’s race, expressed his belief that the alterations made to the car during Friday’s practice sessions could lead to an improvement in performance. He noted that while they should not expect to find the same level of lap time in the race as they did in qualifying, the changes made should still be a positive step in the right direction. He added, “We should remember that in the last race, we had significant difficulties during the race, and these changes should help us overcome those issues.”
Carlos Sainz, who finished sixth in FP1, was able to improve his position and finish inside the top five by the end of the day. Like Leclerc, he also expressed his positivity towards the changes made to the car. Sainz acknowledged that while practice sessions are not indicative of actual race performance, they were able to use FP1 to try different things on the car to enhance its performance for the current package they have. He remarked, “Although practice is just practice, we did use FP1 to experiment with some significant changes to the car to see if we could improve its performance.”
Sainz expressed his optimism that they were able to gain a better understanding of the car and identify a few things that could improve their performance in the future. However, he acknowledged that they won’t know for sure until they try it out in qualifying. He believes that Ferrari can compete with Red Bull in qualifying but expects to face similar struggles on race day as they did in Saudi Arabia.
Sainz expects that they will trail Red Bull by one step in the race, but he is optimistic that the changes they intend to make using the information gathered over the weekend will lead to a better outcome. He remarked, “We hope that the steps we plan to take, and the insights we’ve gained this weekend, will allow us to enhance our situation.”
Ferrari makes progress in Australia, Leclerc targets narrowing the gap to Red Bull Ferrari makes progress in Australia, Leclerc targets narrowing the gap to Red Bull Ferrari makes progress in Australia, Leclerc targets narrowing the gap to Red Bull
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