Charles Leclerc‘s Maranello team has made crucial strides in understanding its car post-Dutch Grand Prix. The team’s performance also received a significant boost following the introduction of a new car floor during the Japanese tournament. As a result, Maranello managed to pull ahead of its primary competition, Mercedes, at Suzuka, leading to an intensifying showdown for the second spot in the championship.
However, Red Bull‘s unparalled speed during the Japan race underscored the significant gap that exists between them and their competitors – a fact that is undisputed among the rival teams. When Leclerc was questioned about his sentiment towards Maranello’s progress versus depression over the massive gap with Red Bull, Leclerc optimistically laid emphasis on the former.
“The key is always to focus on one’s progress. I would say that we have acquired a lot of learning since Zandvoort in the second half of the season”, Leclerc commented. “In light of this, we are definitely pleased with our progress. Of course, we recognize that Red Bull is leagues ahead of us and McLaren performs extraordinarily when they peak, like they demonstrated in Suzuka. Overall, our happiness with our learning far outweighs any disappointment about Red Bull‘s lead. In fact, I believe that our learning will enable us to make significant improvements in the future and hopefully narrow the gap with Red Bull.”
Leclerc’s personal achievement saw a positive surge during the Japanese Grand Prix, following a slight setback in Italy and Singapore where fellow member Carlos Sainz had a slight edge on him. Leclerc reasoned that the shift towards Sainz was due to a unique setup requirement for understeer on their Ferrari. He acknowledged, not being particularly fond of this feature. But despite surging ahead of Sainz in Japan, Leclerc does not believe it signifies any major problem-solving with respect to the SF-23’s functioning.
“The car’s issues remained unresolved,” he noted, “To truly quash them, we may need to develop an entirely new car, and that is our objective for the upcoming year. However, at present, I am focusing my efforts on this year’s model. It can certainly be on the oversteery side, but it tends to be highly inconsistent in this quotient. This necessitates that we drive it on the understeery side, hampering my ability to apply my driving style for optimal lap time.”
In his quest to optimize his driving style differently, Leclerc asserts he has made some strides, as was evident in Japan. However, he cautiously suggested that it may not have a significant impact on the remaining season.