‘It would become worrying’: Charles Leclerc alarmed by McLaren

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have had a mixed year with Ferrari, after a promising 2022 campaign.

McLaren has emerged as a formidable contender, raising eyebrows and concerns among some, including Ferrari’s star driver, Charles Leclerc. 

However, Ferrari Team Boss Frederic Vasseur appears less perturbed by McLaren’s recent surge in form, citing a broader perspective on the team’s progress.

Red Bull’s dominant performance has been the defining narrative of the 2023 season, with the team clinching victory in every Grand Prix except for Singapore, where Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz managed to secure a remarkable win. 

The recent races in Japan, however, saw McLaren outpace Ferrari, prompting Leclerc to express his apprehensions.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

“If they (McLaren) were to confirm their pace in Qatar then it would become worrying,” Leclerc remarked after the Suzuka race. 

“It’s already a worry but we know that they are tracks where they are stronger. 

“If it’s like that again in Qatar, then we will start to worry more seriously.”

In contrast to Leclerc’s concerns, Vasseur remains composed, stating, “McLaren’s strong performance in Japan is no surprise to me.” 

Article continues below

He alluded to McLaren’s earlier struggles in the season, saying, “McLaren had huge problems at the start of the season, but people may have forgotten that they were then on the second row of the grid in Spain.”

Vasseur emphasised that performance in Formula 1 isn’t solely determined by a car’s pure potential or track suitability. 

“It’s not always just about the pure potential of a car or whether a track suits one car better than another. 

“For me, it’s also about drivability,” he explained.

According to Vasseur, Ferrari has made substantial strides over the course of the season, with improvements in tire management being a key focus. 

“As for us, we have made significant progress in terms of tire management,” he noted. 

“In the first part of the season, we suffered more wear than our opponents. 

“We then specifically developed and worked on the setup so that our drivers can keep the tires alive for longer. 

READ: Red Bull fire ‘scary’ warning over budget concerns in Qatar

“This work is now paying off.”

Vasseur also emphasised the positive impact of car improvements on driver confidence. 

“If you take a step forward with your car, that automatically helps the drivers because they then have more confidence in the car. It’s a snowball effect,” he said.