Emerson Fittipaldi detects frustration in Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari driver enduring a below-par 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, adding more pain to his season in the wake of a DNF in Bahrain two weeks earlier.
Pain? Consider that last year after winning the opener in Bahrain, Leclerc battled Max Verstappen in the Saudi race all the way to the finish line, a mere half-second separated the pair after their titanic battle in the 50-lap race.
On Sunday, again in Jeddah, a year later without a point on the board, he finished seventh, 35 seconds adrift of race winner Sergio Perez and half a minute shy of Verstappen, in the other Red Bull.
The stats make for scary reading for the Reds, Leclerc is in eighth place in the F1 drivers’ standings on six points, 38 adrift of title favourite Verstappen who leads Perez by a point, with Sainz in fourth on 20 points. In the F1 constructors’ standings, Red Bull atop the table with 82 points, while Ferrari are fourth with 26. And that’s only after two rounds!
Reviewing the SaudiGP for KelBet.it Fititpaldi ventured: “Charles has probably lost some faith in the team and is frustrated with last year. He demands a lot from his team because of what happened last year and probably feels that time is not on his side with the problems that have recently occurred.”
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But Fittipaldi also sees promise in new Team Principal Fred Vasseur and urges Leclerc to keep the faith: “He should be very grateful to have Frederic Vasseur in the team because he knows how to perform and I’m sure the team will improve. He has a lot of experience.”
Fittipaldi continued: “Ferrari looked fast in qualifying, but they need to improve their performance in the race. Again, Charles was good in qualifying and did a lot better than the other guys, but I don’t think he can do as well in the race with the current package.
“The performance of their tires with the package they are using wasn’t ideal. The tires degraded quite easily but I’m sure Ferrari will improve.”
As for Carlos Sainz in the sister car, who finished ahead of Lecerc in sixth, Fittipaldi said: “Carlos put in some very good performances. He is a driver with some experience and I think his level is very good.”
“Of course, every driver has a car that suits them, but it seems that their car needs some improvement. But he is extremely fast and has a lot of experience. He has achieved good results for many years,” added the double F1 World Champion.