Charles Leclerc won the 2022 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, but would need a miracle to repeat that feat this time around, but he’s not holding his breath for one.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, Charles Leclerc and Ferrari started their season favourites for race wins with a fast car as Red Bull suffered from early reliability problems, before Ferrari’s campaign imploded and Max Verstappen ran away with the Title.
This time, Ferrari’s SF-23 doesn’t seem to be a match to Red Bull’s RB19, and still suffers from excessive tyre wear in races, with reliability still an issue evident from Leclerc’s in Bahrain.
Asked to compare expectations for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix after winning last year, Leclerc said: “Yeah, good memories, but looking [at] this year we are not coming into this race in the same situation as we were last year.
“I think clearly our performance is not as good as last year but we are working massively to try and come back to the front.
“We are fully motivated to be back at the front, we know what we need to work on; I don’t think there will be any miracles for this weekend but after that we’ve got three weeks’ break and we will try to use it in the best way possible in order to bring upgrades as quickly as possible on the car,” he explained.
Qualifying will be close
Qualifying in Melbourne is paramount for a decent result, with overtaking historically tough around Albert Park, as the effect of the fourth DRS zone added this year is yet to be proven.
Ferrari have not been as bad in qualifying this year and Leclerc expects it to be close in Melbourne; he commented: “I think that in qualifying we’ve been quite good since the beginning of the season. Where we need to focus on is the race where our car is extremely ‘peaky’.
“When all the conditions are right, we seem to be able to extract the performance out of our package but whenever the conditions are changing a little bit with a heavier car, when you see a little bit more the limitations of the car, that’s where you struggle, so we are trying to focus on that.
“I do believe we will be quite close in qualifying, I hope so, but I think the picture in the race will be quite similar [to previous Grands Prix],” the Monegasque concluded.
Leclerc currently sits only eighth in the 2023 F1 Drivers’ Standings having scored only six points so far this year. Max Verstappen leads with 44 points.