Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari has a genuine shot at claiming third in this year’s Formula 1 championship but reckons as many as five teams could be in the mix for the position.
Ferrari endured a fraught 2020 campaign, regressing to sixth overall, but showed signs of progress at Formula 1’s opening round in Bahrain.
It scored a double points finish, with Leclerc sixth and Carlos Sainz eighth, to hold fourth position in the standings, six points behind early midfield pacesetters McLaren.
“I think a realistic goal for this year is to be just behind Red Bull and Mercedes,” he said.
“Realistically, I think it’s going to be very difficult to be able to fight with them.
“We are too far behind for now but we are in the fight with four, five other teams for the third place in the constructors’ so it’s going to be a tight fight but if we do everything perfect it’s reachable.”
Leclerc, though, says Ferrari is aware of the bigger long-term picture, with Formula 1 set to introduce overhauled technical regulations in 2022.
“The start of 2020 was difficult to just realise the reality of things and to understand we were really a step down compared to 2019,” he said.
“We went through this process in a good way I think and then we started to work to reconstruct a little bit the whole project and I think the mentality is right, as I said.
“I don’t think we are getting carried away by the fight there is, or by the fight there will be during the season to fight for third in the constructors’.
“I think everyone is well aware there’s much more to gain to prepare for 2022 in the right way because these new cars will last for a lot longer, for many years, after 2022 so we need to be ready for that.”