Charles Leclerc concedes that Ferrari expected Silverstone to be one of its worst-performing tracks of the season after trailing home ninth in the British Grand Prix.
Despite sitting out the entirety of FP2 with an electrical issue on his car, Leclerc wound up fourth in qualifying – one spot above team-mate Carlos Sainz – and admitted afterwards a minor mistake at Stowe had cost him a potential front-row starting berth.
However, Ferrari was unable to retain its competitive edge in the race, dropping back from the McLarens before Leclerc was overtaken by George Russell’s Mercedes.
Having stopped early to cover off the undercut threat from behind, Ferrari was caught out by a Safety Car on Lap 34 allowing those who hadn’t already stopped to change tyres, resulting in both cars falling to the tail end of the points by the end.
While Leclerc accepts the team were unfortunate with the Safety Car timing, the Monegasque says Ferrari’s lack of pace on race day was the architect of its downfall.
“Honestly, not having the pace puts us in a situation where it’s very tricky to manage whatever situation there is,” he lamented.
“So then it looks like bad luck, let’s say the Safety Car, the timing of the Safety Car was definitely not the best for us, and was beneficial for many other drivers.
“At the end, it’s life. We’ve been… we just didn’t have pace.”
“It’s not like we degraded the tires more than others. It’s just that Mercedes and McLaren were stronger than us.
“I managed to keep George behind for the first part of the race. Then I think we pitted for George not to pit and undercut us, but that was too early.
“And then we had the Safety Car, once I started pushing on the hard, and then we got overcut by most of the people.”
Ferrari’s competitive form over a single lap throughout 2023 had previously been undone by an unpredictably behaving car in race trim that had frequently seen its drivers tumble down the order on a Sunday.
But a major upgrade package introduced in Austria appeared to improve matters, with Leclerc converting second place to produce the Italian side’s best result of the year.
However, the Silverstone circuit again exposed the deficiencies of its SF-23, with Leclerc highlighting Ferrari’s performance weakness in high-speed corners.
“This is very difficult to understand,” he said regarding Ferrari’s contrasting fortunes over the weekend.
“But we know that this track was going to be one of our worst tracks, just because of the high-speed corners. This is one of the weaknesses of the car.
“It was kind of a positive surprise to be so close yesterday. Not timing-wise, because I didn’t do a great lap in Q3, but we were very close to Red Bull on the timed lap.
“But then in the race, we have been struggling a lot, and mostly in high-speed corners. We know why we are struggling.”
Aside from encountering troubles through the series of high-speed corners on Sunday, Leclerc also confesses that Ferrari’s car remains too sensitive to blustery conditions.
He added: “At the moment, we seem still very sensitive to the change of conditions. When I say change of conditions, I mean mostly the wind.
“When we have a change of wind, our car becomes extremely difficult, and on that, we have made steps forward, but there are still quite big steps to do.”
Leclerc states that Ferrari is continuing to push hard with development on its current car and expects the slower-speed Hungaroring circuit to suit its package better.
“We are pushing a lot on the development, especially for these high-speed corners, and hopefully it will be better at the next race, the track characteristics should suit our car a little bit better,” he acknowledged.