Leclerc labels 2023 campaign a “disaster” to date, gap to Red Bull “is significant”

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Ferrari’s 2023 has started poorly on the track. A lack of pace on it sees them P4 in the Constructors’ Championship heading into this weekend’s race, a whopping 96 points off Red Bull after just three events.

At his media session in Azerbaijan today, Charles Leclerc spoke about the “disaster” 2023 has been so far. He’s a lowly P10 in the Drivers’ Championship after two DNFs in the first three rounds.

“Well, let’s be honest, if we are speaking on track, first of all the performance is not where we want it to be. The first three races for me was a disaster,” he stated.

“But these three weeks I think was good to reset, to look at it a little bit at the things where we can optimise the package that we have, that for now it is what it is. And we’ve been working on that.”

On Wednesday it was confirmed that Laurent Mekies will be joining AlphaTauri and becoming their team principal at the end of the current year. He’s the latest big name to depart the team since Mattia Binotto’s resignation in November.

“We had a really good relationship with Laurent, but we all understand I think in the team that this opportunity is right to take, as it’s a really good opportunity for Laurent,” said Leclerc.

“It’s like this, but the team is more than one person. I’m very confident for the future with Fred, having what he has in mind, I’m really confident.”

Fred Vasseur took the reigns at Ferrari from Binotto and has endured a difficult start to his tenure as the car has proven to be off the pace of Red Bull.

Leclerc, who already worked with the Frenchman at Sauber in 2018, is more confident than ever because of the vision Vasseur has for the future.

“I think he has been open with what he wants to achieve and the way he wants to achieve it,” said the Monegasque driver. “This gives me the confidence probably more than ever. As much as obviously it’s moving, I’m confident for the future.

Leclerc has accepted the fact that it will take quite some time for Ferrari to make the gains required to Red Bull. The Italian giants started 2022 with an incredibly strong car, but fell away over the course of the last campaign.

This year they have fallen even further away from Red Bull Racing and find themselves in a battle with Mercedes and Aston Martin at present.

“Considering the step that there is to make [to close the deficit], it is a really big one. This we are completely aware of and I’m the first one to be aware of it.

“If I need to choose one team that can do that, it’s Ferrari because I know what’s going on inside and what we are trying to achieve and I am confident in that.

According to the Monegasque, Ferrari hit their targets with the 2023 package. Unfortunately for them, Red Bull Racing made an even bigger leap forward over the course of the winter.

Work is underway to try and make the steps required to fights for wins again, but Leclerc is knows it won’t be an overnight fix.

“The car was doing exactly what we expected it to do. It’s not like on that we did a bad job, that we didn’t arrive to our expectations,” he said.

“Unfortunately, Red Bull did twice of a step compared to us. I think it’s more where we fixed the targets than anything else.

“There are a few things that we’ve realised that should look much better for the future and that gives me the confidence for the future. Now I understand a bit more why we are here now and as I said earlier, I’m confident for the future.

“Probably not short-term because as I was saying, the gap to Red Bull is significant, but I am sure that we will come back.”

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari