Leclerc: Problems getting on the podium are painful

Leclerc GP SPAGNA F1/2021 - DOMENICA 09/05/2021

Charles Leclerc is still struggling with a Ferrari incapable of fighting at the front but has hopes of improvements soon, the Monegasque said in conversation with RTL.

Charles Leclerc has enjoyed a steady and consistent opening four rounds in 2021 with two fourth places and two sixth places to his name.

Rebuilding from a year to forget in 2020, it’s clear that Ferrari have made some forwards progress but times remain tough.

Speaking to RTL, Leclerc said: “It is painful that we still have problems getting on the podium and fighting for victories.

“We have improved since last year, but we still have a long way to go to get where we want to go and that is the top. If you compare it to 2020, the first three races were positive.”

Although Leclerc is yet to earn a podium in 2021, he currently sits fifth in the standings on 40 points, one point behind Imola podium sitter and closest rival Lando Norris while third place Valtteri Bottas has 47 points and three podiums to his name. New teammate Carlos Sainz is eighth on 20 points.

Ferrari already have one eye on 2022 and as does Leclerc, hoping for another season like 2019 in which he has a car capable of regular visits to the rostrum: “2022 will be a good opportunity for all teams to reset their performance. The cars will be so different because you can hardly take anything from this year.

“The teams that do the best job developing the new car this year will be in the best shape in the end. It’s a great opportunity for us to move forward again.”

Reiterating team principal Mattia Binotto, Leclerc insists that the Scuderia are putting more emphasis on 2022 as if they can nail the transition, the rewards will be far greater.

The 23-year-old also gave a line on his former teammate, Sebastian Vettel: “I can’t tell you what went wrong for Seb last year. I hope he has a good season this year. He’s a great guy and he works really hard with the team.”

On Vettel’s replacement, Sainz, Leclerc mentioned: “We are pushing ourselves, spent a lot of time in Maranello before the season, trying to move the team in the right direction. It has been a very constructive collaboration so far.

“But there is also the competition. All drivers want to win, Carlos wants to win, I also want to win. We share a lot of information. But in the car we have the motivation to beat the other.”