Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has said the fact that they are “unhappy” to have missed out on a podium at Imola highlights the progress they have made over the winter.
Leclerc was in an excellent position to score a podium at the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix prior to the race being red-flagged, and he crossed the finish line in P4.
Had the Monegasque driver managed to cling on to a top three finish, that would have been Ferrari’s first podium since the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix, which was scored by Sebastian Vettel.
While Binotto admitted that the Scuderia was disappointed to have missed out on a podium, he hailed the progress the team has made and said the outcome of the first two races of the season is “definitely” positive.
“On a completely different track and in very different conditions to the first race of the season, this result confirms that the work we are doing is going in the right direction,” Binotto said.
“The fact we are unhappy about not getting at least one driver onto the podium is further proof of that. We can definitely say the outcome of these first two races is a positive one.
“Not since the second half of 2019, specifically the races in Japan and Mexico that year, have we had both drivers in the points in two consecutive races.
“We must continue like this and show, race by race, that we know how to improve,” he added.
Continuing, Binotto described Ferrari’s 2021 car, the SF-21, as performing well and said he believes they are battling McLaren for third in the Constructors’ Championship this campaign.
“I think the 2021 car is working as we are expecting, so good correlation with our data which is great,” he said.
“On 2022, we already switched so the team is already focused on next year and we will still have some developments on [our 2021 car to come].
“Our objective for the season… is to still prove that we can progress in all the areas. I think we can do it.
“It’s really a matter of mentality and I think more importantly it shows we are capable of progressing but… I am already happy with what we’ve managed to progress [and that] we’re in a tight fight with McLaren for third.”
Following the race at Imola, Leclerc said he was a “little bit frustrated” to miss out on a podium and explained that Ferrari were very competitive early in the race as they had decided to run more downforce in anticipation of it raining on Sunday.
“I’m happy with the race, but at the same time a little bit frustrated,” Leclerc said.
“The first part of the race, we were very competitive and everything looked good. We took a bit of a gamble yesterday with the downforce to be a bit better if it was raining and it was the case.
“Unfortunately then with the red flag, all the cars were reshuffled and it repacked everyone, and then we started to be a bit vulnerable on the straights and we struggled to defend from the cars,” he added.