Charles Leclerc and Ferrari managed a podium finish in the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix, despite starting from pole on a day when Red Bull and Max Verstappen in particular were unstoppable.
Leclerc inherited pole position for Sunday’s Formula 1 race as Max Verstappen yet again topped the timesheets in Qualifying, but a gearbox change reduced him down to a start from P6.
Verstappen, despite starting from sixth place, once again took the victory, his eighth in a row, and Red Bulls’ 13th on the bounce. Leclerc finished in third place, behind both Red Bull cars of Sergio Perez and Verstappen.
Leclerc, speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, had this to say about his result: “It’s really important. At least it gives me a bit of a smile and I’m sure it gives a smile to many guys at the factory and at the track to go into the summer break with a race like this.
“It’s not a complete happy face because we are still very far off Red Bull and this is our target but on the other hand after such a difficult first part of the season it’s good to finish this first half this way,” he added. “I don’t think you can call it confidence because one weekend to the other it changes everything.”
Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur claimed before the weekend in Spa that Ferrari need to be more aggressive and maximize the potential of their SF-23.
Ferrari need to understand and maximise their package
The Monegasque echoed his boss’ comments, he said: “There is something very interesting that we shall look in is our competitiveness from Budapest to here. I think before Budapest and here if I had bet which track would suit most our car I’d have said Budapest. When you look at the two races we were much stronger here than Budapest,.
“This is exactly what we need to understand in order to maximise our package every race for the second half of the season because clearly we maybe didn’t understand something there.
“It’s not a worry but it’s a point where we need to focus on. After FP1 we understood straight away that we were strong but before FP1 I did not expect us to be that strong so we need to look into it,” he maintained.
Leclerc’s positive but cautious optimism here further highlights the up and down nature of the SF-23 single seater, which can perform really well one week, and miserably the next, but he and Ferrari at least have something to be happy about coming out of Belgium and into the summer break, as the podium is sure to give the Maranello team a well needed boost of confidence into the latter half of the season.
Ferrari currently sit fourth in the 2023 Constructors’ Standings, with a points haul thus far of 191, behind Aston Martin, Mercedes and Red Bull.