Charles Leclerc says Ferrari is braced for a difficult start to the delayed 2020 Formula 1 season, believing it is “99 per cent sure” it will be slower than last year.
Ferrari’s SF1000 was off the pace during pre-season testing in Spain back in February and its prospects were played down by team boss Mattia Binotto.
Binotto rated Ferrari’s pre-season performance as “six out of 10” and effectively ruled the team out of contention from victory in Australia, prior to the event’s cancellation.
Ferrari revealed earlier this week that it had used the time available since re-opening its factory to evaluate its SF1000 and opted to undertake a “significant change of direction in terms of development.”
Its SF1000 will run in pre-season specification through the opening two rounds, to be held in Austria, as it strives to ready a raft of updates for the third round in Hungary.
“I think it is going to be a very challenging season for us, it is definitely not going to be easy,” said Leclerc.
“We still have this question mark, and we still need to wait for qualifying to be sure of what we say, even though we are 99 per cent sure we will be struggling more than last year.
“We were not where we wanted to be [in testing], especially on the qualifying pace.
“Then there’s been this whole situation with the virus, everything was closed, then once it reopened we reanalysed the data with the small amount of time we had.
“I think we decided to make a step back to try and analyse where the issue is coming from to then work on the issues, first to know exactly where it comes from, and that’s where we’re at for the moment, we have tried a different route for Budapest.”
Ferrari finished second in last year’s Constructors’ Championship with three victories and nine pole positions, one of which came in Austria, courtesy of Leclerc.