Charles Leclerc admits Ferrari are sandbagging as he sends Max Verstappen warning

Ferrari were one of the most improved teams in 2022, running Red Bull the closest for the title.

When the regulations underwent a major change of ahead of the 2022 season, teams were given the chance to start from square one all over again.

Ferrari took full advantage of this opportunity and shocked the world with a one-two finish at the season opener in Bahrain, with Charles Leclerc taking the win ahead of Carlos Sainz.

The Scuderia’s strong performances continued on through the early stages of the season, with Charles Leclerc building up a healthy lead in the drivers’ championship while Ferrari led the constructors’.

Unfortunately for Ferrari, their luck ran out fairly quickly and they encountered a number of reliability issues, forcing both Leclerc and Sainz to retire from multiple races.

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When combined with poor strategy calls, Ferrari’s unreliability saw them fall out of the title race, allowing Max Verstappen and Red Bull to cruise to both championships.

Following last year’s heartbreak, Ferrari changed their team principal, replacing Mattia Binotto with Fred Vasseur from Alfa Romeo.

Leclerc and Ferrari have looked second best to Red Bull so far in 2023 but the Monegasque driver has admitted that his team’s goal this year is to go one further and with the championship.

“Well, that’s the goal. For sure,” he said when asked if Ferrari can win the title this season.

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“They’ve had a strong start, Red Bull, and Max seems to be very, very strong. It’s only testing, so it’s difficult to quantify by how much but it seems that they are a bit in front compared to us.

“So we’ve got some work to do but it’s only the beginning. But the goal is definitely to go one better.”

The 25-year-old has also admitted that Ferrari did not show their full potential in pre-season testing, leaving the door wide open for a title battle this year.

“We didn’t show everything – but Red Bull didn’t show everything,” he said.

“Nobody showed everything. We will only see in qualifying.

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“So yeah, it’s very difficult to know exactly how we are. But global picture just tells me we are maybe a bit behind.”

Leclerc’s current contract runs out at the end of next season and the rumours have suggested that he could explore his options, should Ferrari not come any closer to the title.

With the 2023 season getting underway this season, only time will tell how Ferrari’s year will pan out.