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Leclerc Cautious Yet Optimistic About SF-24 Updates

Leclerc Cautious Yet Optimistic About SF-24 Updates

16/05/2024

Charles Leclerc exhibits a mix of optimism and caution as Ferrari introduces advanced updates to the SF-24 at Imola.

Charles Leclerc sought to downplay the impact of the improvements Ferrari made at this weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

Ferrari introduced an upgrade package during its home race at Imola following its debut at a filming day in Fiorano last week.

The Italian team kicked off the 2024 season strongly, winning the Australian Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz and securing five other podiums in the first six races.

However, Red Bull still holds the advantage over the rest of the field, with Leclerc not expecting the new parts to immediately close the gap.

Leclerc Cautious Yet Optimistic About SF-24 Updates

“We had a filming day, but it was mainly for filming purposes. So for now, we really don’t have any actual data. I know it looks like a big change visually, but I would be careful about what you see visually so as not to get carried away and have false expectations. That wouldn’t be good for us. We think it’s a step in the right direction, but it still needs to be confirmed. I’m convinced that it is, but it remains to be seen to what extent it is a step forward.”

Leclerc also expressed caution in assessing the improvements based solely on their performance at Imola.

“I don’t think we can judge our parts in just one weekend. In very few laps, we will understand if the package performs as well as we expected. But then, we need to see how it works on other tracks with different characteristics. That’s really what will tell us what the rest of the season will look like.”

The upgrades have already been evaluated on the Ferrari simulator, with Leclerc hoping that the positive results will translate to the track.

“The improvements are made in a way that has been projected and thought out quite a while ago. So it’s not like we can react to every weakness of the car.”

“However, they are there to make it a much better car in every aspect. That was the main target. It’s primarily on the simulator where we could see the first data and feel the initial changes that were small steps in the right direction.”

“Now, we need to see if, in reality, we will find the gains we saw on the simulator, which I hope we do.”

Winning every race becomes possible

Leclerc notes, like everyone else, a very clear tightening of the hierarchy in F1. And the idea of being able to win every race, not conceding defeat to Red Bull outright, is thrilling to him.

Leclerc Cautious Yet Optimistic About SF-24 Updates

“It’s better because we have the hope of winning if we do everything perfectly. I’ve said in the past, for me, being second, third, fourth, fifth, that doesn’t interest me. Only victory matters to me. And when you see there’s an opportunity, it’s great for us.”

“Having more competition is not only great for me and the team but also for the fans and people watching all over the world. It’s good to see more competition; Carlos succeeded in Melbourne, Lando succeeded in Miami, and I’m motivated to succeed here and in Monaco, and later in the season.”

Frédéric Vasseur stated that Ferrari should consider taking more risks to face Red Bull.

“I think it’s definitely a step that Fred has already moved the team towards this year, focusing particularly on the last details, the last degree, the very last details of everyone in the team. When you put everything together, if you look at just one detail, you might say: OK, why take the risk? But when everyone takes that risk, you add it all up, and it makes a big difference.”

“It’s very important for us to extract the absolute maximum from the car. And I think that’s the mindset we’ve had since the start of the season and will continue to have to try to beat everyone.”

Regarding McLaren’s victory, Leclerc still praises it.

“They had a bit more luck in the race. However, they deserved it because they brought the upgrade during a tough weekend, a sprint race weekend, and everything worked out well for them. But I approach each weekend knowing there’s an opportunity to win if we do everything perfectly. And this motivates us further, being in a very good, positive moment for the team.”

Leclerc discusses the change of race engineer

Leclerc denied that Ferrari’s decision to change his race engineer from this weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix could be a problem.

Ferrari announced last week that Xavi Marcos, who has been the voice in Leclerc’s ear since he joined Ferrari in 2019, was changing positions within the Italian company.

Leclerc Cautious Yet Optimistic About SF-24 Updates

Such upheavals can create problems, as seen in Miami when a communication issue with his new engineer saw Valtteri Bottas penalized for impeding Oscar Piastri.

However, as Marcos’ replacement, Bryan Bozzi, has been Leclerc’s longtime performance engineer, the Monegasque has few concerns.

“Obviously, it’s very competitive and every little thing makes a difference. However, the decision was made between the team and Xavi. They had other plans in mind, I suppose. This was communicated to me right after Miami. That said, Bryan, who will now take over Xavi’s role, is someone I’ve been working with since I joined Ferrari.”

“He has always been my performance engineer, so he knows exactly how everything works. It’s not like I’m starting from scratch and it’s going to be a complete adjustment. Everything has gone very smoothly so far and I’m sure it will continue that way. It will already be at 100% starting this weekend. That’s all I can say.”

“The communication between people has always been an important thing for Fred (Vasseur) and we have worked it with Xavi. We always try to communicate as much as possible. That’s how I work to try to have the best overall picture of a situation.”

“As I said, I think we will focus on the smoothest transition possible, then on the things that matter to us. I don’t think it’s been a particular problem in the past.”

Leclerc Cautious Yet Optimistic About SF-24 Updates

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