Leclerc: Zandvoort troubleshooting has moved Ferrari towards Sainz

Charles Leclerc credits Ferrari’s improved Formula 1 form to extensive troubleshooting carried out at the Dutch Grand Prix but concedes car tweaks now favour Carlos Sainz’s driving style.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Sainz ended Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s record winning streak in Singapore to back up his consecutive pole positions, while a delayed pitstop last weekend left Leclerc to finish fourth.

While the bumpy Marina Bay street circuit and its aggressive kerbs that forced a ride height rise means the Red Bull dip is thought to be only temporary, Ferrari does appear to have taken a stride forward.

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Leclerc reckons using the Dutch GP in August to run extensive set-up tests is key to this turnaround, as Ferrari has sought to tame the unpredictable on-the-limit handling of the SF-23.

Speaking in Singapore, he said: “I really hope it’s possible to repeat in Suzuka and I’m looking forward to seeing that. If we do that then it’s a really good sign for the future.

“In Zandvoort, we’ve done many tests. In Monza, we wanted to re-confirm those tests and the understanding we had from the car.

“From here, we applied everything and it seemed to do a big step forward.

“Having said that, Singapore has historically been a very good track for us so we need to wait one more race in order to see whether we have done a really good step forward consistently or whether it’s a one-off.”

Ferrari introduced an upgraded floor in Miami as part of a development path that was conceived to make the car more predictable, but Leclerc reckons the team has had to rely more on set-up tweaks to settle the handling.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Ferrari

This has caused him to struggle to match team-mate Sainz, with the Monegasque having to move away from his preference for oversteer since the car was too snappy.

Leclerc explained: “It’s great to have [Carlos] on such a form because it pushes me also to understand a bit more my driving style and try to fit my driving style to this car.

“I’m not completely comfortable with the car at the moment - a bit too much understeer for my liking and I struggle to drive around it.

“Because of the unpredictability of the car, I cannot have the oversteer that I want.

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“There is a bit of work to do, but it’s first of all great to see that at least the competitiveness seems to be up there. Now it’s up to me to try and catch up.”

He clarified: “We’ve got this very unpredictable car and so because of this unpredictability we need to be on the safe side balance-wise.

“We cannot run with a lot of front [end] because then whenever you have a snap, you lose a lot of grip from the car and it’s just very difficult to manage.

“It’s not that it’s an understeery car, but it’s just you have to put understeer in the car to make it predictable and this is tricky.”

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