‘Red Bull still quite far ahead – but we are getting there’ declares Leclerc after P2 in Austria
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has taken plenty of positives from his drive to second place during the Austrian Grand Prix, despite conceding that current pace-setters Red Bull are “still quite far ahead”.
Ferrari only scored one podium – Leclerc’s P3 result in Azerbaijan – over the first eight races of the season, but the famous Italian marque and their upgraded SF-23 displayed encouraging pace throughout the weekend at the Red Bull Ring.
Having placed second in qualifying – less than half a tenth behind pole-sitter Max Verstappen – Leclerc converted his grid spot in the race to follow the Dutchman home, providing his team with a morale-boosting result.
“It was very important to have a good race today – and we did a good race today,” said Leclerc after crossing the line just over five seconds behind Verstappen, who was more than 20 clear prior to a late pit stop for a fastest lap attempt.
“The first stint we had to really take care of those tyres, for some reason I was a bit struggling with the rears, so [I was] trying to take a bit of margin on that first set.
“In the second and last stint I could push a bit more and the pace came together quite nicely. We are still far from the Red Bulls on that, we still need to work quite hard, but overall it’s been a good day, a positive feeling, and that feels good.”
Asked if he feels Ferrari are moving in the right direction in terms of pure car performance, Leclerc made clear: “No doubt, no doubt. The team is making progress, for sure.
“The feeling has been there since the last two or three races, but we really needed a dry race like this to understand exactly how much of an improvement we did.
“The feeling is definitely going in the right direction. There’s still a lot of work to do, because Red Bull is still quite far ahead, but we are getting there.”
Carlos Sainz finished fourth in the other Ferrari after being told to hold station behind Leclerc early on and then losing out as the second to pit under the Virtual Safety Car, though dropped to sixth post-race for a track limits penalty.