Charles Leclerc has openly admitted that Ferrari’s 2023 car, the SF-23, simply hasn’t been “good enough”, although he recognises that things did start to improve in the latter stages of the season.
For the bulk of 2023, Ferrari were more often than not the third or fourth best team at most events, as they tended to struggle with race pace.
As is often the case with the Maranello-based team and Leclerc, one-lap pace wasn’t an issue, with Leclerc having been able to fire his tyres up in rapid fashion.
However, this ability impacted Ferrari during the races, as they often struggled when it came to tyre preservation.
Similar to Mercedes’ issues with the W14, Ferrari’s SF-23 was just too unpredictable, making it difficult for Leclerc and Sainz to push to their maximum.
Things did improve considerably towards the end of the campaign, though, with the introduction of a revised floor having increased Leclerc’s confidence in the car.
As a result, the Monegasque was exceptional in the closing rounds, as he was able to finish on the rostrum in Mexico, Las Vegas and in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
It was enough to seal fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, with him admitting that he felt “much more at ease” with the SF-23 in the closing rounds of the season.
“Well, it’s not been easy. I think we’ve had two parts of the season: we’ve had pre-Japan and post-Japan at least on my side,” Leclerc said in Abu Dhabi, as reported by Motorsport Week.
“I feel much more at ease with the car since Japan. We’ve worked on the consistency of the car in different conditions which helped a lot my driving style.
“I like quite a lot to have an oversteery car and a strong front which in the first part of the season I couldn’t quite do that.”
Whilst Leclerc was pleased that the car improved considerably in the final handful of rounds, he acknowledges that, overall, the SF-23 just wasn’t “good enough” and “consistent enough”.
Ferrari failed to repeat their 2022 performance of finishing second in the Constructors’ Championship, with the Italians now set to introduce a new concept in 2024 to try and reduce their deficit to Red Bull.
“But yeah, there’s still a lot of work to do obviously because especially into the race, with the tyres, everything depends on details that we need to get everything right and at the moment our car is not good enough and not consistent enough, especially on long runs so we are working on that,” Leclerc added.