Charles Leclerc hopes the three weekends without a race after the Australian Grand Prix will allow Ferrari to bring forward a number of upgrades to try and close the performance gap to Red Bull.
Ferrari won two of the first three races with Leclerc last season, with his comfortable victory in Melbourne giving him a significant early championship lead. However, this year Leclerc retired when in podium position in Bahrain and was limited to seventh due to a power unit penalty in Saudi Arabia, and he is eyeing the gap in the calendar as an opportunity for Ferrari to develop its car.
“Clearly, our performance is not as good as last year,” Leclerc said. “But we are working massively to try and come back at the front. Last year’s are good memories … everybody was really happy. But again, we are fully motivated to be back in the front — we know where we need to work on.
“I don’t think there will be any miracles for this weekend. But after that we’ve got a three-week break and we’ll try to use it in the best way possible in order to bring upgrades as quickly as possible on the car.
“I think in the situation we are in as a team, we take this as an opportunity to work as much as possible during this break in order to be as competitive as we want the sooner in this season. It’s still a very, very long season, we’ve only done two races.”
Leclerc says it is race pace that Ferrari needs to improve, as he feels the one-lap performance is strong and will allow him to challenge Red Bull during qualifying in Melbourne.
“I think that in qualifying, we’ve been quite good since the beginning of the season. Where we need to focus on is the race, where our car is extremely peaky. When all the conditions are right, we seem to be able to extract the performance out of our package but whenever the conditions are changing a little bit, with a heavier car where you see a little bit more the limitations of the car, then that’s where we struggle.
“So we are trying to focus on that. I do believe that we’ll be quite close in qualifying — I hope so — but I think that the picture in the race will be quite similar.”