Charles Leclerc fears Red Bull could out-develop Ferrari during the F1 season
Charles Leclerc is concerned Red Bull’s rate of car development could outstrip Ferrari’s this year – potentially undermining his title prospects.
By winning the Australian Grand Prix, the Monegasque driver has built a 34-point lead over second-placed George Russell in the Drivers’ standings after three races, while Ferrari are 39 clear of Mercedes in the Constructors’.
But in terms of pace, it is Red Bull who have been the closest rivals to Ferrari, their World Championship chances being hampered by three retirements out of six so far.
As a result, Red Bull trail the Italian giants by 49 points, while Max Verstappen is only sixth in the defence of his Drivers’ crown – five points behind his team-mate, Sergio Perez, due to the Dutchman having had two DNFs along with one victory.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said he would rather have a fast car with which the reliability can be resolved, as opposed to a slower but dependable one that may not be capable of racing at the front.
The consensus among teams, however, is that with heavily revised regulations this year and all-new cars, the campaign will evolve into a development race with a pecking order that changes throughout the months and potentially 20 more grands prix leading to the Abu Dhabi finale in November.
With his pole, win, fastest lap and having led every lap, @Charles_Leclerc became only the 26th driver in #F1 history to earn a Grand Slam in a Grand Prix 👏 pic.twitter.com/APe4EwnVMC
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) April 11, 2022
Leclerc fears Ferrari’s terrific start, which represents a big step up from where they were in 2021 and especially 2020, could ultimately count for little if they cannot improve their car as quickly as Red Bull.
“I know underneath me I’ve a car that is capable of winning and I don’t really have to overdo things or do something extremely special and spectacular to actually get one or two positions because I know it’s in the car and I just have to do the job,” Leclerc told reporters after his victory in Melbourne.
“So the mindset is a little bit different this year.
“And then to keep up with Red Bull in terms of development will be difficult. But the same team that did this car will work on the development for this year’s car, so I am confident.
“There is no reason for us to be on the back foot because we’ve done a great job, or the guys at Maranello have done a great job, building up this car for this year.
“There are some developments coming and I’m confident it will go in the right direction.
“I wouldn’t focus too much on the others. I think we need to focus on ourselves.”
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