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Ferrari F1 recovery being helped by protective "bubble", says Leclerc 

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur’s creation of a protective "bubble" around the team to block negative external forces has been praised by Charles Leclerc for helping its Formula 1 recovery. 

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

The Maranello squad has endured a difficult 2023 campaign where its hopes of challenging for the championship quickly evaporated off the back of race struggles with its SF-23 car. 

But, under new team boss Vasseur, the squad has made a number of infrastructure changes and car tweaks that appear to have helped turn things around – with Leclerc back on the podium at the recent Belgian Grand Prix. 

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Autosport, Leclerc said that he was impressed with the way that Ferrari had responded to the early season challenges. 

And he has singled out the way that Vasseur in particular has helped address the historical problem of Ferrari being influenced too much by external criticisms, especially in the Italian media. 

“I think we created quite a bubble without being too much influenced by what's happening outside, which is a really good thing,” explained Leclerc. 

“I think Fred was really on board and understood straight away that the media could influence a little bit the team in some type of ways in the past, and this was one of the focuses at the beginning of the year.  

“On that, we did steps forward. So, I don't feel like it's any more the case.  

“Of course, there are some moments that are tricky to manage, but this is the same for everybody in the paddock - although Ferrari is always a bit more under the spotlight.” 

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

The disappointment of this season is nothing new to Leclerc, who also endured a tough time in 2020 when Ferrari also fell short of its pre-season targets. 

But he thinks things are being dealt with much better now, as he is clear that Ferrari has more of an idea of the direction it needs to go in than before. 

“We all went through it with the whole team in 2020, where, obviously, the results weren't as good as what we were expecting at the beginning of the season,” he said. 

“It is difficult. But I feel that in those moments the most important thing is to always have a clear direction in which to work because it's very easy to lose a little bit the path whenever things are not going as you want.  

“It very often doesn't come from only one thing, but it's multiple things that make a small difference in the wrong direction. And you need to pinpoint those things and work on those things only; and not put everything in question. I believe we have done a good job this time.” 

He added: “In 2020, I felt like it was a bit more difficult to find this path again. But straightaway this year, I felt like we were on it. And we are working in the right direction.” 

Ferrari’s bid to get on top of its 2023 troubles have not been straightforward, as it has been chasing a characteristic quirk with its car rather than an outright lack of pace. 

Sprint pole winner Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

Sprint pole winner Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

The SF-23 has proved to be super-fast in qualifying, with Leclerc having started from pole position twice this season. However, a lack of consistency in its performance has triggered tyre degradation issues that have often left Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on the back foot in races. 

Asked if sorting out such an issue was harder than simply just finding more downforce, Leclerc said: “It looks complex.  

“And, to be completely honest, you do the first two races and you're like: ‘okay, this is strange.’ Because we are in qualifying, we are really quick, we arrive in a race and we struggle a lot - and at the end, the car is the same so we cannot change the car.  

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“But then as soon as we understood the two/three things that we had to work on in order to improve mostly race pace, it was very clear what is the direction we need to take.  

“It's taking time because it takes time in F1, and it's not from one day to the other that you can improve. We've done some steps forward, but we need to do some others because the road is still long to catch Red Bull back.”

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