Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc remains apprehensive about Ferrari’s high-speed vulnerability ahead of the Silverstone event next weekend, despite the podium finish secured last Sunday in Austria.
Following Scuderia Ferrari’s introduction of an incremental upgrade package featuring a revised SF-23 floor and front wing at the 4.318-kilometre Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, the Monegasque acknowledges that his Formula 1 car still possesses a weakness at high speeds, which unfortunately could affect the Italian side even more next weekend, given the track characteristics of the Silverstone circuit. The purpose of the update was not only to enhance aerodynamic load but also to improve the SF-23’s drivability and expand its performance range, addressing previous issues with tire degradation and inconsistent race pace on circuits with significant downforce like the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo.
The overall impression is that the aero upgrade appeared successful, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz showcasing improved race pace under warmer conditions on Sunday in Spielberg. While Red Bull and Max Verstappen remained untouchable for all their rivals this season, Scuderia Ferrari still emerged as the second strongest team of the day in Austria, outperforming struggling Mercedes and Aston Martin and recovering some of the point deficit in the Constructors standings.
However, despite finishing second, the Monegasque driver remains cautious in view of the next round of the season, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, a high-downforce circuit that will truly test whether Ferrari has made substantial progress or not.
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“This is the target, if not doing better,” Charles Leclerc replied when quizzed on whether or not Ferrari has overcome it’s main issues in this first part of the season following the recent updates – “So yes, it is a very different track in Silverstone. And it’s going to be very interesting to see where we are there, because I feel like maybe the weakness of the car now is still a little bit, the high-speed corners. And in Silverstone, there are lots of high-speed. So, it will be good to see if this new package helps.” – the Monegasque explained.
His Maranello teammate Carlos Sainz expresses discontent with Scuderia Ferrari’s double stacking strategy during virtual safety car pitstops in the first part of the race, indicating ongoing development of Maranello’s strategic improvements.
While the Spaniard was disappointed to finish outside the podium in fourth place at the Red Bull Ring and was later demoted to sixth due to a new track limits penalties, he acknowledged the notable improvement regarding the SF-23 race pace.
“Yeah, I was very quick today, especially with the medium tyres,” – Carlos Sainz explained when asked if his Ferrari car’s performance in the Austrian Grand Prix was a positive sign – “I felt like we had a lot of pace. It’s just a shame we couldn’t use it fully, but is what it is. I think a double podium today was possible, especially with the pace I had. I’m just frustrated. It’s been a few races that I have a lot of race pace in the car. I wish I could maximise it a bit more.” – the Ferrari man concluded after the Austrian Grand Prix.