Charles Leclerc makes Ferrari plea

Charles Leclerc has acknowledged Ferrari’s failings throughout the 2023 season and issued a demand to the team.

Charles Leclerc has opened up further about his challenges with Ferrari’s SF-23, recognising the need for adaptation to better suit the car’s characteristics.

While Ferrari has experienced a series of competitive weekends since the summer break, their performance in the 2023 season has been inconsistent, heavily influenced by the nature of each track. 

After ending Max Verstappen’s winning streak in Singapore, they faced a significant deficit to the Dutchman, finishing over 40 seconds behind in the following race at Suzuka.

Leclerc’s performances relative to his teammate Carlos Sainz have also varied, with Leclerc being slower than Sainz in one-lap pace at Monza and Singapore but out-qualifying him by over three-tenths of a second in Japan.

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The 2023 season has brought its share of challenges for Leclerc, including crashes during qualifying in Miami and Zandvoort. 

Reflecting on his mistakes, Leclerc stated, “I’ve always been challenging the rear, a lot… and definitely too much at some points at the beginning of the season. 

“But it’s something that I hate to find excuses for, in a way. In the end, I am the driver, I am the one setting up the car.”

He acknowledged that his choice to set up the car with a strong front end at the start of the season, despite its inconsistency, was a factor in some of his mistakes. 

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Leclerc emphasised the importance of learning from these errors to improve his performance throughout the season.

Leclerc’s strong start to the 2022 season saw him challenging Max Verstappen as Ferrari emerged as one of the major beneficiaries of F1’s aerodynamic changes. 

However, technical failures and development issues hindered Ferrari’s progress, preventing Leclerc from closing the gap on Verstappen.

With the introduction of the SF-23, Leclerc faced a car that diverged from his preferred handling characteristics. He explained, “We are obviously in a very different place compared to where we were last year. 

“We had a very, very strong front end, and it was very consistent throughout the whole year. 

“This year is a bit more difficult to manage.”

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The SF-23’s inconsistency and oversteer tendencies forced Leclerc to adapt his driving style to a more understeer-prone setup, which was not his natural preference. 

Leclerc acknowledged the challenge of driving a car that did not align with his strengths, stating, “I had to do some work to try and fit my driving a bit better to an understeery car which is not my biggest strength, and I know it.”

Despite the challenges posed by the car’s characteristics, Leclerc emphasised the importance of personal adaptation, stating, “But it doesn’t matter, I have to adapt from one season to the next.”