Charles Leclerc is expecting Ferrari to enjoy one of its more competitive outings at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, drawing on its success at similar venues to Monza in 2023.
After ending the first half of the year on a positive note with a podium in Belgium, Ferrari’s heavily inconsistent campaign continued when the season resumed at the Dutch Grand Prix last weekend.
Even before Leclerc’s race was compromised by significant floor damage, Ferrari had struggled for pace all weekend, with team-mate Carlos Sainz labelling the SF-23 the “sixth fastest car” at the Zandvoort circuit.
Despite his race being thwarted by that damage, Leclerc says the Maranello-based squad were able to confirm the weaknesses of its package earlier in the weekend.
When asked what lessons Ferrari took from Zandvoort, Leclerc said: “Many. Not really in the race, as obviously a part of my front wing went under the floor and broke everything, so I had basically very little grip but for the rest of the weekend, we tried quite a few things.
“Especially in FP1, trying to put the car in very different places, in terms of set-up, to see how it will react. I think we had some confirmation of what we expected, so we’ve got a lot of work to do now and find solutions to our problems and the weakness of the car – but it’s even clearer, compared to before, where we are lacking at the moment.”
Leclerc’s prospects for the Dutch GP had already been compromised after a crash during the final segment of qualifying resigned him to lining up ninth on Sunday.
The Monegasque driver attributed his crash to encountering a capricious car – a persistent problem that both Ferrari drivers have complained about throughout the year.
Pressed on whether unpredictability was the biggest weakness of the team’s SF-23 package, Leclerc responded: “Yes. The unpredictability, especially on tracks where we have a bit more downforce.
“It becomes really, extremely tricky to drive, and we’ve got big changes of balance through the same corner and, as a driver, it’s very difficult to get into a corner not really knowing what balance you are going to get. So, that’s where we need to work at the moment.”
However, Leclerc is optimistic that the arrival of a return to home territory for Ferrari will inspire an immediate upturn in fortunes.
The Ferrari driver believes that Monza’s extreme low-downforce circuit characteristics will help the Italian marque avoid the troubles it has experienced at recent high-downforce venues.
“Let’s say it’s… well, it’s not exactly like Spa but these track characteristics are closer to the ones of Spa than Zandvoort and Budapest, so we should be a bit more competitive here,” he said regarding Ferrari’s chances this weekend.
“Then, whether it will be enough to fight for the podium, I don’t know but I really hope so and we will do everything for it, for sure.”