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Leclerc: Ferrari "still has a lot of work to do" to catch Red Bull in F1

Charles Leclerc says Ferrari’s “maximised” performance in the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix shows the team has “still a lot of work to do” to catch Formula 1 rival Red Bull.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Leclerc scored only the second podium of the season for the Scuderia as he claimed second place at the Red Bull Ring. The Monegasque also finished third in round four in Azerbaijan.

He enjoyed a 10-lap spell in the lead by undercutting dominant race winner Max Verstappen during an early virtual safety car but was repassed and fell 24 seconds behind the lead Red Bull.

That gap fell to 5s at the flag since Verstappen made a late pitstop to successfully chase the bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

After running second in qualifying on Friday, the improved result and ability to put some early pressure on Verstappen left Leclerc to suppose Ferrari had “maximised” its potential on Sunday.

However, he reckoned that what turned out to be a comfortable 1-3 result for Red Bull proved the team has “still a lot of work to do” to catch the pair of RB19s.

Leclerc said: “I think Friday and today we have maximised what we had, really.

“It's more yesterday that I was off the pace [Leclerc finished 12th in the sprint race]. But it's good to be back on the podium.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, 2nd position, arrives in Parc Ferme

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, 2nd position, arrives in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“The [revised front wing and floor] upgrades that we brought on the car made me feel a little bit better in those conditions, which is looking good for the future.

“The team has done an excellent job by bringing these upgrades earlier. So that's great. But obviously there's still a lot of work to do, because Max and [Perez] had a lot of pace.”

Asked about the aggressive early stop that enabled Leclerc to take the lead to end Verstappen’s run of 249 consecutive laps in first place, the Ferrari driver said: “We are struggling quite a lot in dirty air, so I was trying to get the track position even though we knew that on the long term for the whole race, it will have been difficult to keep Max behind with the race pace he had.

“I tried but it wasn't enough. But at least it's good to be back on the podium, especially after the last few races that have been a bit more difficult.”

Leclerc did add that the British GP at Silverstone this coming weekend has historically suited Ferrari so that, with the new upgrades, the SF-23s can provide “a bit more of a challenge to the Red Bulls”.

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