Carlos Sainz managed to break the record-winning streak of Red Bull and Max Verstappen in Singapore. This massive achievement followed his back-to-back pole positions. But a tardy pitstop last weekend resulted in Charles Leclerc coming only fourth.
Although the physical challenges presented by the Marina Bay street circuit and its forceful kerbs, leading to a rise in ride height, are considered reasons for Red Bull‘s sudden plunge, Ferrari indeed seems to have made an impressive leap forward.
Leclerc points to the pivotal Dutch GP in August, where extensive set-up tests were conducted, as key to this turnaround. Ferrari‘s strategy revolved around taming the unpredictable handling of the SF-23 while driving on-the-edge.
Commenting on this, Leclerc said, “I genuinely hope it’s possible to reiterate in Suzuka and eagerly await to witness that. If that’s the case, it bodes well for the future”.
He further explained, “We performed many tests in Zandvoort and sought to re-verify these tests and the insights we derived from the car in Monza.”
“Post that, we implemented everything, and it seemingly propelled us significantly forward. However, taking into account that Singapore has always been favourable for us, we have to wait for another race to discern whether this signifies a consistent leap forward or a one-time fluke.”
Ferrari unveiled an upgraded floor in Miami with the aim to render the car more predictable. However, Leclerc believes the team has depended more on the set-up tweaks to stabilize the handling. This has caused him to trail behind his comrade Sainz, which forced Leclerc to desert his predilection for oversteer since the car was overly responsive.
Addressing this, Leclerc said, “It’s admirable to have Carlos in such terrific form as it also encourages me to comprehend my driving style better and adapt it to this car.”
“At present, I’m not entirely comfortable with the car – a tad too much understeer for my liking and I find it hard to manoeuvre around. Since the car’s behaviour is unpredictable, I can’t get the oversteer I desire.”
“It certainly requires more work, but it’s definitely encouraging to observe that the competitiveness seems to be climbing. Now, it’s my turn to scale up,” asserted Leclerc.
Additonally, Leclerc clarified, “We are dealing with a highly unpredictable vehicle and due to this erratic nature, we must be cautious with the balance.”
“The car can’t operate with plenty of front end because when you encounter a snap, you lose significant grip, making it particularly challenging to control. It’s not fundamentally an understeering car, but one must inject understeer to ensure predictability, which is a tricky proposition.”