‘Real championship will begin in Imola’ as Ferrari to copy Red Bull with huge upgrade

Ferrari are expected to introduce major upgrades at their home Grand Prix in Imola on May 21.

With this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix having started, Ferrari remain confident that they can “fight for victory”, with Charles Leclerc still believing that the Italians can win the title this season.

It’s been a challenging opening two races for Ferrari, with the side having already faced reliability gremlins and poor race pace.

As a result, they’ve already slipped 61 points behind Red Bull, emphasising just how quickly the Maranello-based team must respond.

Ferrari are aware of the challenge ahead of them but are getting to work in a bid to overhaul their deficit, with some huge upgrades planned for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

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Some small changes have been introduced this weekend for Melbourne but nothing compared to what is set to come at Imola.

Leclerc knows that his side must work incredibly hard to get back to the front but is seemingly confident with the upgrades to come.

“We can’t fool ourselves by saying that everything is fine and this weekend we will fight for victory,” Leclerc said ahead of this weekend.

“But it’s a long season and we have plans to update the car in the next races.”

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The Monegasque made a strong start at the Albert Park Circuit where he famously won 12 months ago.

He claimed fifth in FP1 before finishing second behind Fernando Alonso in FP2.

On the other side of the Ferrari garage, Sainz claimed sixth in FP1 and fifth in FP2, marking a solid start to the weekend.

Like his team-mate, Sainz knows that Ferrari “need to improve literally everything” in order to catch Red Bull but that importantly, the team “understand” why they’ve struggled so much.

“Red Bull is dominating and we are eight tenths behind per lap in a race distance,” Sainz said.

“This car is not easy to drive, but we understand the reasons. It does not have any specific weaknesses, so we need to improve literally everything in order to close the gap.”

The upgrades that Ferrari have planned for Imola are believed to be based around the rear suspension, in an attempt to improve Leclerc’s and Sainz’s tyre wear, something they’ve struggled with in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Supposedly, the Italians are set to “take inspiration from Red Bull” in order to develop a fix for their problems, as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

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Should Ferrari’s upgrades at Imola work, then that is where the “real championship” will begin.

“As far as we understand, it will be later – in Imola,” revealed La Gazzetta dello Sport reporters Mario Salvini and Paolo Filisetti.

“The real championship, which may be a simplification but not too much, will begin at Imola on 21 May,” they added.