Charles Leclerc says the past three races have shown Ferrari is on the back foot and needs to find performance like McLaren has, after a frustrating Hungarian Grand Prix.
Lando Norris picked up his second consecutive top-two finish in Budapest as McLaren’s upgrades delivered more impressive performance on a very different type of track to Silverstone. After struggling in Great Britain, Ferrari was again off the pace in Hungary as Leclerc was classified seventh due to a time penalty – ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz in eighth – and he says it reinforces the view that the team has slipped back in the pecking order.
“The pit stop was quite slow, we had a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. so again, that is difficult,” Leclerc said. “Honestly, it’s frustrating overall because I felt that, the pace we had, even as a driver when you are feeling like you are doing a good job with the car you have, nobody really notices it. When you are doing a bad job, everybody notices it.
“It’s difficult but in the end, it’s part of the game and it’s just up to us now to do a step forward as McLaren did. Now we are on the back foot, it’s been confirmed through the last three weekends. There is a lot of work to do.”
Part of the issue for Ferrari is how the car feels to the drivers, with Leclerc insisting he was actually under the impression it was handling well for the majority of Sunday’s race.
“I feel like the result is much worse than what it felt like. The first stint felt pretty good, then with the slow stop it really put us on the back foot behind Lance (Stroll). I had to push a lot, then we were with Carlos and we lost a bit of time there. Then in the third stint, I pushed again and there again, the car felt quite OK. I feel like the result looks a lot worse than what it actually is. But it’s clear that compared to Lando especially, we are still behind.”
There was a positive aspect that Leclerc took away from the Hungaroring, though, as he noted an improvement in terms of tire degradation compared to earlier races in the season.
“Considering how much we were pushing, I don’t think it was that bad. But I don’t want to comment too much on that because to be honest, in the car you’ve only got your own picture,” he said. “I could see with Lewis (Hamilton) in front in the first stint, I felt like we were doing a really good job on tire management.
“The third stint with Oscar (Piastri), I felt like I was doing a really good stint with tire management. But I don’t know what the other three guys at the front were doing.”