Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari‘s long run pace remains the biggest area of improvement for the team after a mixed Friday at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Leclerc was fourth fastest behind Fernando Alonso in FP2 in Sakhir, 0.460 seconds adrift of the Aston Martin driver and also three tenths behind the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
It has been tricky to judge how strong Ferrari are since pre-season testing after they experimented with different parts and setups.
But, the long runs on Friday showed Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were around half a second slower than Verstappen and Alonso on heavy fuel.
“That’s where we have most work to do,” said Leclerc when asked about his long run pace. “But it’s very difficult to know what the others are running.
“We know what we are running and we know there is a big of margin so we need to wait and see for Sunday.”
Leclerc rules Ferrari out for pole position hunt
One lap pace was a strength of Ferrari in the first half of the 2022 season as they took six pole positions in the opening 10 rounds.
In testing, Ferrari didn’t show their hand on low fuel but FP2 showed they don’t have the outright pace of Aston Martin and Red Bull
“I don’t think we have the performance maybe for pole,” said Leclerc. “But we can be in the mix.
“Whenever we have races that are a bit more difficult, we should be here and try and take every opportunity. So that’s what we’ll try to do this weekend.
“Let’s say the feeling is better than testing. On my side in testing it has been very inconsistent in the way we run the car because we we were testing loads of things.
“I didn’t have much time to put the car to my liking, which I did today, and I think that went pretty well.”
Red Bull quite a bit ahead
Ferrari have made big leaps each season since their underwhelming 2020 which saw them have their worst Formula 1 campaign for 40 years.
This time around, Leclerc feels the Scuderia are not a match for Red Bull at the start of the season and is weary of the new Aston Martin threat.
“On the other hand, it seems that again, what we thought was confirmed, Red Bull seem quite a bit ahead compared to everyone,” Leclerc continued. “Aston seem very strong too.
“But let’s wait and see. For now, we need to focus on ourselves, try to gain a little bit of performance overnight and hopefully have a great qualifying tomorrow.
“Maybe Aston are a bit quicker than what they will be tomorrow but let’s wait and see, we don’t know, it’s just what I think.”