Leclerc: 'Very tight field' but Red Bull has the edge over everyone

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23. 02.06.2023 Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
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Charles Leclerc is heading into this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix hopeful of salvaging something from a troubled start to the 2023 season - but he's also realistic that it's going to take a miracle for Ferrari to catch Red Bull.

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have between them won every race so far this season, while Ferrari have managed to finish on the podium just once with Leclerc taking third place in Azerbaijan.

It's left Leclerc in sixth place in the drivers standings and Ferrari as a whole currently fourth in the constructors championship - far from being the title contenders that had expected to be at this point.


"It’s clear that although Red Bull has the edge over everyone, the rest of the field is very, very tight" Leclerc told the media at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday, in which Verstappen had topped both practice sessions.

Leclerc was eighth quickest at the end of the day, a second slower than Verstappen, with team mate Carlos Sainz one place behind in P9. However he was happy that there was more to come from the team over the rest of the weekend.

"It has been an interesting day as we had some new parts to try, so we ran very different programmes between the two cars," he said. "It was a productive day as we got through all the tests we wanted to do, even if it’s difficult to read where we are in terms of performance right now."

"We will keep pushing to try and make the steps forward that we want in order to be more at ease with the car tomorrow, and then we will be able to see where we are."


Sainz gave more details into what had preoccupied Ferrari today and why their performance had been somewhat subdued.

"There were plenty of new things to try today on the car," he said, referencing the new sidepod designs making their debut on the SF-23 this weekend, which team boss Frederic Vasseur had earlier revealed would “open doors” for the direction of future development.

"We were constantly adapting to the setup changes and analysing the differences between parts across the two sessions," Sainz said. "We also tried all three compounds. Overall it's been a full day of preparation for the rest of the weekend."

Charles Leclerc (FRA), Scuderia Ferrari Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari 02.06.2023 Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

While a lot of home fan interest is focused on his compatriot Fernando Alonso this weekend, Sainz is also delighted by the boost of support from the grandstands.

"Thanks to everyone cheering from the grandstands today," he said. "It feels great to see so many people at the track already on Friday!"

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