Leclerc confident Ferrari can hunt down McLaren for P3 as he expects a 'strong race' for the Scuderia in Mexico
Ferrari and McLaren are split by just 3.5 points going into the Mexico City Grand Prix and Charles Leclerc appeared to be quietly optimistic for the Scuderia’s chances as they aim to overhaul the deficit and take third in the constructors’ championship.
Leclerc, who took pole here last time F1 raced at the track in 2019, finished fourth in the 2021 United States Grand Prix two weeks ago, and is aiming to make it a third-straight points finish in Mexico. With Ferrari a whisker behind McLaren in the chase for P3 in the table, he weighed up his team’s chances at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Thursday.
“On paper it should be a better track for us compared to Austin,” he said, “but it’s also true to say that sometimes we’ve had good and bad surprises compared to what we expect on paper so let’s not get carried away too much and again, focus on our job. But it should be quite a strong race for us if we compare ourselves to the other midfield teams."
As for the fight against McLaren, he added: “We are still chasing them; we are not in front of them, so it’s going to be very, very tight because they are a very strong team, very consistent from the beginning of the year, so it’s not going to be easy.
“But as I said we are working well as a team since the beginning of the season – every time we brought things [upgrades] it went in the right direction – so it’s looking good but again, we need to try and do everything perfect until the end of the season and I’m confident we’ve got chances to finish ahead of them in the championship.”
It’s not just Leclerc who’s on a hot streak, but team mate Carlos Sainz as well, the Spaniard having scored in every race this season bar Portugal and France, meaning that Ferrari have scored in all but one race this season: the French GP.
“Yes, we’ve had a few good races now,” said Leclerc as he acknowledged Ferrari’s momentum. “Especially Austin was a pretty strong race for us, so it’s good to see that. It’s not a track we expected to be strong or at least not stronger than McLaren, our main competitors this year, and we were, so it shows we are working in the right direction, and if we keep working at it then it’s looking good for the future. But yes, we need to keep our head down and keep working.
“Our high downforce package has always worked pretty well this season – in Monaco, in Budapest also – so yes, we’ll probably run with it here. That’s why I think we should be competitive [in Mexico],” he concluded.
Constructors' standings pre-Mexico City