Charles Leclerc seemingly confirms Ferrari rumour in warning to Max Verstappen

Ferrari reportedly discovered an additional 30hp during the off-season, something which could give them an advantage down the straights.

Charles Leclerc had a mixed opinion on Ferrari’s pre-season testing, with the Monegasque having identified where the team’s new car – the SF-23 – is lacking ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Based on last week’s testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, Ferrari look set to be in a three-way fight with Red Bull and Aston Martin come this Sunday, as they attempt to win the Bahrain GP for a second consecutive season.

Leclerc and Max Verstappen had an excellent battle last season in Bahrain, with the Ferrari driver having been victorious.

It looks likely to be much more challenging for Leclerc this weekend if he wants to replicate his victory from 12 months ago, with Red Bull appearing to have the best overall package.

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What will fill Leclerc with confidence is that Ferrari were incredibly quick down the straights, with their issues seemingly being “more in the corners”.

Leclerc is aware that the team haven’t yet discovered the car’s “sweet spot” ahead of the opening round but is hopeful that further performance will be discovered once the car is set-up correctly.

“I think the car changed a little bit of characteristics this year,” Leclerc said.

“I expect us to be a bit quicker in the straights, maybe struggling a bit more in the corners.

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“And with this three-day test, I can say that we are still working quite a bit on trying to find the sweet spot of the car in terms of set-up.

“So I hope there is some margin on that still, that we haven’t found the sweet spot yet.”

Interestingly, Ferrari’s strength last season was the corners, whilst Red Bull’s was the straights, with the pair appearing to have swapped their cards ahead of the forthcoming season.

The SF-23’s characteristics have resulted in Leclerc having to change his driving style, something he had to adjust to during pre-season testing.

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“It is a different car,” said the Monegasque.

“You need to drive it a little bit differently, but that is what testing is for.

“I’ve been trying a lot of different driving styles. I seemed to find my way a little bit this morning, finally. But again as I said, we still have some work to do.”