Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc believes that his team will have gone some way towards overturning their current pace deficit to Red Bull with the upgrades they have brought to this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Ferrari looked to have the edge over Red Bull in the opening rounds of the season, with Leclerc taking relatively comfortable wins in Bahrain and Australia, and sandwiched in between was a victory for Max Verstappen that might easily have swung the Monegasque’s way.
But the Austrian outfit lost up to 5kg with an upgrade they introduced at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and Verstappen has been near enough unassailable in the last two races in Imola and Miami.
Despite locking out the front row for the Scuderia for the first time since 2019 in Florida, Leclerc and Carlos Sainz barely bad an answer for the Dutchman’s pace, although they both managed to finish ahead of the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
It is evident that Red Bull have slightly edged ahead of Ferrari in terms of pace, but the Scuderia are aiming to bounce back with their first major evolution this weekend, which includes a new diffuser, a revised floor and a changed rear wing.
Leclerc was asked by Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz if he is at all “worried” by Red Bull’s impressive pace in the last two rounds.
“No,” was his reply.
“I mean it’s not yet the time to be worried but of course we’ve seen that they’ve brought small upgrades but all the time that did a difference and now race after race they get stronger and stronger.
“We need to push at the maximum, worried is not the word.
“I think we are aware of how close they are getting in terms of the championship which means that they are in front on track.
“This is not what we like to see bit on the other hand yeah, let’s stay focused on ourselves.
“We are pushing 200 percent and I don’t think being worried will help us gain anything more out of it.”
The 24-year-old does not know exactly how much the new upgrade will give Ferrari compared to their rivals, but he is of course hoping for the full 44 points for the team.
“A one-two definitely, that would be great to see,” said Leclerc with a smile.
“I don’t know yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s going in the right direction, this is for sure.
“How much, I don’t know and I don’t know also what they are going to bring, what Red Bull is going to bring this weekend so it will depend on how much they are gaining and how much we are gaining but I hope that it will be advantage to us a little bit now.”
Sainz posited on Thursday that the new cars, which use ground effect aerodynamics under the new technical regulations, might need a slight rethink due to the aches and pains the “porpoising” is causing for the drivers, but Leclerc divulged that he has been impervious to its effects so far.
“I don’t think [there is much risk of injury],” he said.
“I think we are in a much better place than even 20 years ago so yeah sure it’s not the most comfortable car to drive with the ‘porpoising’ but I’m also probably not the best person to speak about this because I am just non-sensitive at all for kerb riding… I don’t feel this and it doesn’t disturb me.
“’Porpoising’ also doesn’t disturb me, I don’t know for whatever reason, but I guess it’s a good thing with those cars so yeah it’s not a problem for me.”
Leclerc topped the first practice session in Spain on Friday ahead of Sainz and Verstappen, while Juri Vips finished 20th and last in his first-ever official appearance in an F1 car having taken over from Perez.