Charles Leclerc has completed two days of work on the Maranello simulator. The Monegasque driver has made himself available to the Scuderia for the development of the SF-23, a single-seater that has certainly not given the results the team expected so far.
Last year Charles was leading the world championship at this point in the season, boasting two victories under his belt, while twelve months later he is only in tenth place in the drivers’ championship with the six points scored in Jeddah, after a race in which he had to take a ten-place grid penalty for exceeding the power unit components.
The two retirements weigh heavily: that of Bahrain due to the ECU failure, while in Australia he paid for an overly aggressive start to the race with Lance Stroll and he finished his race in the gravel of the turn 3 escape route. A mistake that could have been avoid, which testifies to the uncertainty of a championship start that places the SF-23 in the role of fourth force, while he expected to be a challenger for Red Bull this season.
Charles Leclerc has found a highly motivated team, more than ever determined to get back on top: the positive atmosphere has certainly done the Ferrari driver good, after the Monegasque driver returned from Melbourne with a low morale. Charles has an extraordinary gift: “He is always hyper-critical with himself” – Dr. Riccardo Ceccarelli who knows him well told Motorsport Italy – “He rigorously recognizes the mistakes he has made, but then he has the ability to know how to turn the page and look to the future in constructive way like few others”.
In short, he manages to ‘delete the virus files from his recycle bin’, resuming work with confidence. After all, the team principal, Fred Vasseur, instills optimism in all of the Ferrari Racing Division: “We’re [going] in the right direction – said the Frenchman -. The mood in the team is more than good”.
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The leader of the Ferrari Racing Division holds the bar firmly, in the belief that the SF-23 has not yet shown its true potential. On the contrary, he makes it clear that the next round in Baku will also take place on an unconventional track, so it is not certain that Azerbaijan will see what he thinks could become the real competitive order.
But Australia gave a clear direction to the development of the car, which was able to lap with a height from the ground that was more close to the track, controlling the degradation of the tires that had affected the SF-23 in the previous two rounds.
Let’s be very clear: both the Azerbaijan and Miami GPs will take place with the developments that had already been programmed in the time schedule launched at the beginning of the season, while it is similarly true that from Imola the corrections to the project that have been made will begin by the staff of Enrico Cardile who relies on the aerodynamic chief, Diego Tondi, and the Head of Vehicle Concept, Fabio Montecchi who took the role left vacant by David Sanchez (the Frenchman resigned to go to McLaren at the end of the gardening leave).
And who knows if Charles Leclerc, after deliberating the updates for Baku, hasn’t already been able to discover some of the solutions that he will find on the SF-23 starting from the Emilia Romagna GP on 21 May on the ultra-modern Dynisma Motion Generator simulator. The trust that filters through the Ferrari Racing Division opens the door to a breath of optimism.
The violent controversies that hit the Scuderia after the disappointing performance of the SF-23 seem to have subsided. The belief is that the SF-23 is not to be thrown away at all, but needs major interventions. Fred Vasseur doesn’t want to hear about “Spec-B.” It will be enough to look at Ferrari in its final stage at the Spanish GP to get an answer, but the important thing is that the positive atmosphere in Maranello is truly generated by the positive data from the wind tunnel and the simulator. Because believing in illusions a second time would have a devastating effect on the entire Scuderia. The bombastic predictions of winter have been proven wrong by the facts. Now you can have a smile, keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground…