Leclerc foresees big F1 upgrade battle after McLaren win in Miami


Charles Leclerc believes that Lando Norris’ surprise victory with McLaren in the Miami Grand Prix is a prelude to a competitive period in the 2024 F1 season dominated by an upgrade battle between F1's top teams.

Norris gained an edge over his rivals in last Sunday’s race thanks to a well-timed pitstop under the Safety Car.

However, while McLaren’s execution was flawless, the pace of its MCL38 in Miami – powered last weekend by a significant upgrade package – was no fluke.

Team papaya’s performance level, coupled with Ferrari's own plans for major upgrades, has Leclerc anticipating a closely fought season heavily influenced by car development.

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“As I've said many times, I think the season will be up to upgrades,” said Leclerc who completed Miami’s podium behind Norris and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

“We have ours coming very soon and that will define a little bit the rest of the season for us.

“So we've got to work hard and hopefully those upgrades will be as good as theirs and will help us to do a significant step forward.”

Leclerc's Miami weekend suffered a rocky start when he spun and the beginning of Friday’s single practice session and was unable to complete the session, which left him blind heading into sprint qualifying later in the day.

Despite the inauspicious kick-off, the Monegasque driver rallied to secure second place in both qualifying sessions before his run to the podium on Sunday.

However, when asked if finishing just two seconds behind championship leader Max Verstappen was a positive sign, Leclerc rightly noted that McLaren, not Red Bull, had been the team to beat in Florida.

“Well, if we compare ourselves to Max this weekend, it's been a positive weekend. However, we cannot completely ignore Lando,” he said.

“And Lando in SQ2, I remember he did a lap where I was like, ‘OK, they are extremely quick’.

“Then for some reason, and as Lando said, I think they weren't as special on Saturday for some reason. But [during the race] they were really, really strong.”

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