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Leclerc Ferrari Podium Saudi Arabian F1 2024

“Small Steps Forward” – Leclerc on Ferrari’s Gain

10/03/2024

Charles Leclerc’s third-place finish at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix marks a positive stride for Ferrari, as they work to close the gap with Red Bull.

Finishing third at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and achieving his first podium of the year, Charles Leclerc praised Ferrari’s strong performance, stating they secured the best possible result over the weekend. Indeed, Red Bull’s F1 car is seemingly unbeatable at the start of this season.

“We optimized everything. We’ve always struggled at the start of stints, whether on medium or hard tires. Towards the end of a stint, we were quite competitive. With the mediums, we didn’t really see this. With the hards, it became apparent towards the end, but by then, it was too late to recover what we had lost at the beginning with the battles we had.”

“Overall, the race was positive. I believe we are making small steps in the right direction. Looking back at the last six or seven months, we are the team that has improved the most and are gradually closing the gap. However, it remains significant. But if we continue to work like this, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we put more pressure on Red Bull.”

While Leclerc managed to hold off Sergio Perez at the race start, he inevitably had to yield to the Mexican by the fourth lap. Nonetheless, Leclerc has no regrets, praising the cleanliness of the maneuvers.

“I vividly remember coming out of turn 2, thinking, ‘Oh, I hope Checo will give me space,’ and he did. So, I kept my second position. After that, I don’t remember much. I think it was a very clean overtake. There wasn’t much I could do. We struggled somewhat in defense and attack. I think we had slightly less top speed than others, which was intentional. But we’ll review this to see if it was the right decision.”

Besides top speed, what else is Ferrari missing to further close the gap to Red Bull?

“As for the DRS, I don’t believe that’s where our deficiencies lie at the moment, but of course, we will conduct a more thorough analysis to precisely identify our weaknesses. Furthermore, I don’t think tire degradation was an issue. We had a bit more difficulty getting them to the right temperature to push, which made things a bit harder. That’s where they managed to create a gap, which remained more or less constant until the end. But it was too late for us to put them under pressure.”

Could this difficulty in heating the tires explain why the Monégasque struggled on the restart against Lando Norris?

“No, with Lando, I don’t think that was the reason I struggled to pass. I believe it was more a matter of straight-line speed. But yes, the restart was obviously quite tricky with the tires being a bit out of the operating window. From our side, it was probably the worst. But once they were up to temperature, which was the case when I was close to Lando, it was more the top speed that was challenging.”

In conclusion, Leclerc does not anticipate Ferrari overturning the situation in two weeks in Australia.

“With no new developments in Melbourne, I think we’re doing a good job optimizing our package for now. That’s where we stand. I think we’ll probably have to wait and see, when we have new parts on the car, what kind of progress we make. And I hope that will bring us closer to Red Bull.”

Leclerc Ferrari Podium Saudi Arabian F1 2024. Leclerc Ferrari Podium Saudi Arabian F1 2024

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