Charles Leclerc admitted, after Red Bull secured the 2023 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship at Suzuka last week, that Ferrari’s fight with Mercedes for second will be close.
After the extent of Red Bull’s dominance in 2023 became clear, their rivals have been consigned to fighting for the best-of-the-rest status, and while Sergio Perez is also second behind Max Verstappen in the F1 Drivers’ Standings for now, second in the Constructors’ Championship is up for grabs, currently occupied by Mercedes.
But Ferrari have closed the gap on the eight-time Constructors’ Champions are now only 20 points behind them in the standings, the target being overhauling Mercedes and taking second place off them.
That comes after Ferrari managed to understand their SF-23 better, especially in terms of sorting out its chronic tyre degradation issues, which happened after the summer break, as the Red Cars seemed to be easier on their tyres on race days. Their one-lap pace however has always been ok.
Mercedes better in races, Ferrari better in qualifying
Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur said after the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix that they are now fighting Mercedes for the rest of the season, and that the Scuderia will not back out, even of their focus not is more on 2024, but instead they will try to beat their rivals with the resources available adamant that would even be beneficial for the future.
Asked about the fight with Mercedes, Leclerc, who finished fourth in Japan said: “Mercedes are strong, especially in the races.
“In Japan, they put us under a bit of pressure at the end by splitting the cars. In qualifying, it’s a bit more inconsistent, so it’s going to be a very close fight,” he added, speaking to Sky Sports F1.
“We are a bit more inconsistent in the race, they are a bit more inconsistent in qualifying. But, I have a feeling inside me that we have learned a few things in the last weekend that will hopefully give us the upper hand for the rest of the season,” Leclerc explained.
Ferrari are the only team other than Red Bull to win a race in 2023, with Carlos Sainz winning the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, on a weekend where the Bulls and Verstappen were out of sorts.
Big Question: Who will prevail in the fight for runner up in the 2023 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship? Ferrari or Mercedes?