Charles Leclerc is pleased with the forward steps being taken at Maranello, with the Italian squad making improvements to a significant weakness on the SF-23 – tyre degradation. The 25-year-old started 2023 with a series of misfortunes, but recent adjustments have resulted in improved form.
Although Red Bull’s dominance has been clear throughout the year, there have been plenty of fluctuations elsewhere on the grid. Ferrari is no exception to this.
Leclerc started the year with a series of reliability-impacted results, missing out on several points in Bahrain and then Jeddah. Pole Position in Baku was undoubtedly a highlight, but this could not hide the Scuderia’s weaknesses in race trim.
Not only was the SF-23 unpredictable with a small operating window, as seen most clearly at the Spanish GP, but its tyres would often degrade faster than rivals.
This combination has often resulted in Ferrari slowly, painfully losing ground to its rivals over a race distance.
However, following a third podium in Belgium, the Monegasue expressed his satisfaction with the progress in this area:
“I think it’s a bit too early to say, but it’s been two or three races where we are managing our tyres better.
“I think today this was definitely not the reason why we finished so far behind the Red Bulls. I think they were just quicker.
“But in terms of tyre management, we didn’t have a huge degradation. And also, looking at Mercedes behind, I was in control of the pace of my tyres.
“So on that, 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 has no plans to abandon development on the SF-23 just yet, with important work still necessary to understand its behaviour better.
If the Italian outfit hopes to reassert itself as a Championship contender next season, lessons must be learned over the next ten rounds. The aim will be to identify, correct and strengthen any weaknesses that might hold the team back in 2024.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang