Charles Leclerc spoke candidly about Ferrari’s start to the 2023 season, with the Monegasque in a very different position from twelve months ago.
Ferrari’s SF-23 machine has failed to live up to the pre-season hype, proving significantly behind Red Bull’s pace in the opening two rounds.
Leclerc’s DNF in Bahrain has also highlighted the reliability concerns at the Scuderia, despite the team identifying this area as a priority over the winter.
The 25-year-old has just six points to his name going into this weekend’s Australian GP, as Red Bull looks beyond reach from the rest of the field.
Despite this, Leclerc is hopeful that Ferrari’s development programme can close the gap throughout the season.
“We need to be very realistic, and we are. We are far away from the position we were in last year coming into the race.”
“But that absolutely doesn’t mean that we are not motivated to return the situation as quickly as possible.
“I know there are quite a lot of upgrades coming to the car in the next few months, and this should help us to close the gap.
“We don’t have a timeline [for turning around performance] just because we are pushing so much that this timeline is consistently changing and getting closer…
“It’s not been an easy season. Obviously, the first two races have been pretty unlucky. Running in third in Bahrain and having the mechanical issue…
“I just need to focus on trying to extract the maximum and keep the motivation high – but this is not too hard for me because I am always extremely motivated.”
No major updates are expected in Melbourne this weekend, with relatively small changes to be introduced progressively in the upcoming Grand Prix.
Ferrari will likely be forced to focus on Mercedes and Aston Martin for the foreseeable future, maximising the SF-23 until significant upgrades arrive.
Although Charles Leclerc appears confident that upgrades will improve performance, the question is whether the Italian squad can out-develop its rivals.
Aston Martin has proven capable of making rapid improvements quickly and seems unlikely to face the change in direction that Ferrari will need to rectify the situation.
Still, with a relatively small sample size of just two race weekends in 2023, it remains to be seen how the SF-23 will perform in Albert Park.