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Leclerc: Ferrari Miami F1 upgrade should go in "right direction"

Charles Leclerc says Ferrari’s first significant upgrade of the 2023 Formula 1 season “should go in the right direction” to close the Italian team’s performance gap to Red Bull.

Sprint pole winner Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur said after last weekend’s event in Baku that his squad intended to unveil the real start of its 2023 development plan at this weekend’s Miami race, with further additional early-season tweaks to the SF-23 package expected at the following few rounds.

This would come after Ferrari only made circuit-specific tweaks, plus minor front wing and floor updates for Jeddah, during the opening three races of the season.

Ferrari had hoped to close on Red Bull over the 2022 off-season by altering its car concept to favour straightline gains over cornering speed but, instead, the gap has increased.

Like its predecessor the F1-75, the SF-23 can rival the Red Bull over a single lap, with Leclerc topping both qualifying sessions last time out, but cannot compete over race distances without destroying its tyres.

Appearing in the press conference ahead of this weekend’s Miami race, Leclerc was asked to offer his thoughts on how Ferrari’s planned upgrade might alter that situation at the Scuderia.

“It should go in the right direction,” Leclerc stated.

“I don’t think it will be enough to fight with them, but it will go in the right direction, I’m sure.” 

Leclerc finished second in the Baku sprint race behind winner Sergio Perez, then trailed both Red Bulls home in the main race – being overtaken easily in each event thanks to his rivals’ straightline prowess and potent DRS arrangement.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

But those results were the best of Leclerc’s season so far following his unfortunate beginning to 2023, where incidents or penalties in all three opening events meant he registered his worst F1 season start since his debut year with Sauber in 2018.

When asked how much of a lift his Baku results had provided, Leclerc replied: “It was good. 

“After the first three races, it was really bad. Obviously, we were really unlucky in Bahrain being in third and having that technical issue, already a penalty for the second race, and then the DNF with the incident with Lance [Stroll] in Australia.

“So, it couldn’t be worse. But, in Azerbaijan, it went really well. 

“We had our first pole, which is great. I think it confirms how strong our car is, especially in qualifying. But then in the race it confirms our weaknesses a little bit - that we still need to work on our race pace, as the Red Bull is just too strong for now.”

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