Charles Leclerc has admitted Ferrari realised their chances of snatching the constructors’ championship off Red Bull had evaporated in the first few races of 2023.
With Red Bull dominating 2023 and Max Verstappen all but crowned drivers’ champion, Ferrari and Mercedes have now switched attention to securing second in the constructors’ championship.
Ferrari and Mercedes had come into 2023 hoping to wrestle the world championships away from Red Bull, but both teams’ challenges quickly fell by the wayside after difficult starts to the F1 season.
“As Ferrari, especially coming into this year, we finished second in the constructors last year, so the target was to try and win the constructors this year,” Leclerc told the press.
“Then, after the first few races, we understood this wasn’t realistic because Red Bull is in a league of their own at the moment. So, the main target for Ferrari is to come back, winning as soon as possible.
“Having said that looking at the season, the best we can do is second place, and we’ll do everything to achieve that. It’s going to be tight because of Mercedes but also McLaren.
“They are a bit further away in the constructors, but all three teams are super close. So it’s going to be an exciting [end to the] season. It’s just unfortunately for the second place.”
Turning point for Ferrari
The nadir of Leclerc’s 2023 season came at Zandvoort as Ferrari’s lack of pace on the tricky slow-speed circuit was compounded by a crash in Q3, which relegated the Monegasque to ninth on the grid for Sunday’s race.
The race didn’t go much better for Leclerc as floor damage following contact with Oscar Piastri on Lap 1 was followed by a botched opening stop before being called in to retire on Lap 41.
Following Zandvoort, Ferrari bounced back on home soil at Monza, with Carlos Sainz taking pole position before finishing second. The Spaniard went one better, dominating the Singapore GP and ending Red Bull’s run of wins.
“One thing that we did find for sure since Zandvoort is we have a good understanding of our car now,” said Leclerc. “I think in Zandvoort, we did quite a lot of tests, and it’s been super useful for the whole team.
“That is crucial for future developments, especially for the short term. I don’t think that will help us to basically fight for wins all the time. But at least we’ll be able to maximise a bit more our package.
“Now, it’s only a few hundreds with Mercedes and McLaren. So we need to be on top of our game every weekend.”