Charles Leclerc had words to brighten every Ferrari fan’s day, saying he thinks the team have got on top of their biggest weakness since the new regulations were implemented in 2022.
Leclerc started first for the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix and though he couldn’t hold off the rampant Red Bulls, he was able to comfortably secure just Ferrari‘s third podium of the season ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
The team struggled with tyre degradation in 2022 and that problem has been exacerbated in 2023, but following the Spa success Leclerc was asked whether he thinks Ferrari have solved the problem
“I think it’s a bit too early to say,” Leclerc told the media. “But it’s been two or three races where we’re managing our tyres better.
“I think today, this was definitely not the reason why we finished so far behind the Red Bull, I think they were just quicker. But in terms of tyre management, we didn’t have huge degradation.
“Looking at Mercedes behind I was in control of the pace, of my tyres, so it looked good. We still need to keep an eye on that because sometimes, especially in very specific conditions, we sometimes get off the right window of the tyres and then we struggle quite a lot.”
Ferrari brought significant upgrades to the Austrian GP at the start of July, and track-specific front and rear wings to Spa after a busy period in Maranello.
Leclerc finished second in Austria and though Ferrari were well off the pace at Silverstone and the Hungaroring, that wasn’t so much down to tyre wear.
And on a Spa track that suited the SF-23’s strengths, Leclerc once again put it all together qualifying on pole once Max Verstappen took a gearbox penalty, before Ferrari netted nine points from the sprint race and 15 from his grand prix podium.
Hamilton stayed within a few seconds of Leclerc for the whole of his last stint at the Belgium GP but couldn’t make any significant inroads on the Ferrari and eventually abandoned the chase by pitting for the fastest lap.
It’s a huge improvement from the Spanish GP, where Carlos Sainz said he spent the whole race managing his tyres dropping from the front row to fifth.
Leclerc reveals plans for F1 summer break
It’s as good a time as any for Ferrari to pick up a trophy, providing some much-needed momentum going into the summer break.
There’s a four-week gap in racing before Formula 1 returns with the Dutch GP at the end of August, and factories must also shut down for a fortnight.
Asked if he’d be doing any other racing in his holidays, Leclerc said: “No racing for me, I’m around Monaco, Corsica and Sardinia, with my family and friends.”
Where is the next F1 2023 race?
F1 will return from its summer break with the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix from Zandvoort on August 25-27, where championship leader Max Verstappen will be racing on home soil.