Leclerc: 'Realistic' for Ferrari to battle for third in championship

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Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari has a "realistic" chance of topping F1's midfield this season, but the Monegasque admits the Scuderia shares that opportunity with five other teams.

Based on its performance in Bahrain, Ferrari appears to have made a step forward this season after last year's dismal campaign, its worst in F1 since the early 80s.

Both Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz finished among the top-ten at Sakhir, with Ferrari concluding the season opening round as the fourth best team.

"I think a realistic goal for this year is to be just behind Red Bull and Mercedes," he said in Imola on Thursday.

"Realistically, I think it’s going to be very difficult to be able to fight with them.

"We are too far behind for now but we are in the fight with four, five other teams for the third place in the constructors’ so it’s going to be a tight fight but if we do everything perfect it’s reachable."

Although Ferrari has set its sights on significantly improving its fortunes this season, Leclerc said that the Italian outfit's main focus was on next year's campaign and the sport's regulation changes.

"The start of 2020 was difficult to just realise the reality of things and to understand we were really a step down compared to 2019," he said.

"We went through this process in a good way I think and then we started to work to reconstruct a little bit the whole project and I think the mentality is right, as I said.

"I don’t think we are getting carried away by the fight there is, or by the fight there will be during the season to fight for third in the constructors’.

"I think everyone is well aware there’s much more to gain to prepare for 2022 in the right way because these new cars will last for a lot longer, for many years, after 2022 so we need to be ready for that."

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