Leclerc admits Ferrari had to ‘reset’ their targets for 2023 after first race of the season
Charles Leclerc has admitted Ferrari had to “reset” their expectations for 2023 after the first race of the year, while team boss Fred Vasseur insists they only need to find a few tenths of lap time to start challenging for wins again.
Ferrari made a fast start under the new overhauled technical regulations that were introduced at the start of the 2022 season, as Leclerc won two of the first three races to begin the year – in Bahrain and in Australia.
However, with Red Bull now proving the class of the field and rivals such as Mercedes, McLaren, and Aston Martin having all improved, Ferrari now find themselves in a tough battle in the chasing pack – and they currently sit fourth in the constructors’ standings.
The Scuderia have showed signs of improvement in recent races, with Leclerc finishing second in Austria, before taking third in Spa in the final Grand Prix before the summer break. However, Vasseur knows they have to push on if they want to start fighting for victories.
“First, I will be focused on the vacation,” Vasseur joked when asked about his targets for the second half of the year. He continued: “What we have to keep in mind is the whole pack is very tight.
“But if you have a look at McLaren, [in Hungary] they were at the top, [in Belgium] they were at the bottom, and it was the opposite for us. It means we have to continue to develop the car, continue to pay attention to details.
“Because for one or two tenths you can move from the bottom to the top and it’s a good lesson from the first part of the season.”
Leclerc meanwhile admitted Ferrari have fallen short of their pre-season expectations.
"Before the first race, the target was to do a step better compared to last year, which was to win the world championship.
“If we look at the first half of the year, we are very far from where we put our expectations before the season. So, on the other hand, as soon as we understood that we reset it and there was an incredible reaction from the team.
“They brought upgrades, sometimes a month and a half earlier, and this requires a lot of effort from everybody at Maranello. It helped us have great results.
“I think we still need to try to understand, because if I do a step back in the last two races, I think we expected to be much more competitive in Budapest than on a track like here [Spa] and at the end, it’s the opposite.”
He continued: “So, these are things that we need to look at because maybe we haven’t optimised the package in races like Budapest, and maybe we’ve done something that was surprisingly good on a track like [Spa].
“So, it’s good, anyway, to finish on a positive note the first part of the season and now we will take the time of the summer break, or at least whenever the guys can work again, to try to analyse those two last races and hopefully maximise the package at all races for the second half of the season."