Charles Leclerc still believes that the 2023 Formula 1 title is up for grabs despite the sizeable gap between Red Bull and Ferrari.
The Monegasque driver has been the closest on pace to the reigning champions in qualifying, but mechanical woes in Bahrain and a grid penalty in Saudi Arabia put pay to any potential challenge in those races.
Red Bull, meanwhile, have finished first and second in both races so far in 2023 with Max Verstappen one point ahead of Sergio Perez courtesy of the fastest lap in Jeddah. Leclerc, though, still sees the pair as catchable this season.
When asked if the world title is still a possibility in 2023 by media ahead of the Australian GP, Leclerc said: “Of course it is. We are very early on in the season.
“We cannot hide ourselves and say everything is fine and that from this weekend onwards we will be fighting for wins again.
“We need to be realistic with ourselves and we are far away from where we want to be but that does not mean that the season is over.”
F1 returns to Albert Park in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix and Leclerc is delighted to be back down under after he dominated the race in 2022 on the newly reconfigured layout.
“It’s a very special race for me,” Leclerc added. “It’s where I had my first F1 race which are good memories.
“The track is one I really, really struggled with at the beginning but I started to completely love from last year because it was a successful weekend for me.
“I hope we can repeat that this weekend but being realistic, we are not in the same position as we were last year in terms of performance.”
This year, there is an added DRS zone on the back straight to try and encourage even more close racing and overtaking.