First pole confirmed how ‘strong’ Ferrari package is says Leclerc ahead of Miami and Red Bull challenge

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 04: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari attends the Drivers Press Conference

Charles Leclerc endured a difficult start to his 2023 season, but last weekend in Azerbaijan the Ferrari man managed to grab not one but two pole positions – for the Grand Prix and the Sprint - as his Ferrari finally looked a match for the might of Red Bull over one lap. And, while he couldn’t keep hold of that P1 come the race, it was certainly a step in the right direction for the Scuderia.

With so little time between that race and this weekend in Miami, Leclerc could well use that result as a springboard here as he continues to try and rebuild his season – although he, like the rest of the paddock, was keen not to downplay the advantage Red Bull seem to have over the field.

“In Azerbaijan it went really well,” he said. “We had our first pole, which was great. I think it confirms how strong a car we have especially in qualifying but, then in the race, it confirms our weaknesses. We still need to work on our race pace as the Red Bull is too strong for now.

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“Sometimes a team is just better than the others and at the moment it’s like that with Red Bull. We are working flat out like everybody here is to try and recover the gap to the Red Bulls. I think on one lap we can maybe challenge them, in the race it’s going to be more difficult.”

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23  on track

The Ferrari drivers know they have a fight on their hands when it comes to Red Bull

Ferrari have brought some upgrades to Miami, something Leclerc is expecting to take the team “in the right direction” as they seek to reassert themselves as Red Bull’s closest challengers following the surprise of Aston Martin’s jump in performance in 2023. With Mercedes also improving, it is making it a congested fight for the top places – something that Carlos Sainz is very aware of.

“I’ve already taken my conclusions,” he said when asked about his performance in Baku. “Even when it’s a good result you need to be quick to turn the page and also when it’s a bad result, not a bad weekend, P5 no?! But a tough weekend so happy to be here and ready to bounce back in Miami.”

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This was a track the team went well at last year, with Leclerc grabbing pole and Sainz ensuring it was a front row lock out for the Scuderia. Repeating that performance isn’t out of the realms of possibility – but it is race pace where Ferrari expect to struggle again, with Sainz saying their upgrades should take them “towards Red Bull” before suggesting that actually beating Red Bull is going to be an exceptionally tall order.

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