After struggling through 2020 and 2021, Ferrari has bounced back under the new regulations this year, winning two of the first three races courtesy of Charles Leclerc.
This has allowed Leclerc to create a 34-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship after just three races, while the pair of podium finishes achieved by team-mate Carlos Sainz has helped Ferrari take 39 points out of advantage in the constructor classification.
Sainz ‘s renewal until 2024 seems to follow this line that Leclerc comments of focusing solely on his team. The Monegasque joked when asked about the news of the day, before giving his opinion.
“Oh no! Come on, now seriously, I’m very happy. Carlos is a great guy as well as a great driver. We have a very good relationship and we work very well together.”
“Again, we are a very strong lineup of drivers, we keep pushing each other race after race, and this is great for the team and for ourselves.”
So far, Red Bull has been Ferrari ‘s closest rival this year and while Mercedes has struggled to match the top two teams, the gap could narrow and grow due to the significant development race under the new regulations.
But Leclerc underlined the importance of Ferrari staying focused on its own performance and development plans rather than letting rivals hog its attention.
“I don’t want to look at others too much,” Leclerc explained. “With the focus that we’ve had the last two years, we couldn’t really focus on anyone else, because we took such a step back from 2019 to 2020 that we just wanted to be back on top.”
“By focusing on ourselves, we find much more value than by focusing on others, and I think that’s the focus I want to keep this year.”
“It’s not looking too much at what Mercedes and Red Bull do, but focusing on ourselves. What are the weak points? Again, this has been one of our strong points in recent years, identifying our weak points very well and working them and fix them quickly.
“That’s what we have to do this year. And I’m sure if we do it right, the results will come.”
Leclerc managed to control the final race in Australia, leading every lap from pole position and setting the fastest lap to record his first Grand Chelem in F1.
Leclerc explained that Ferrari was expecting more difficulties at some of the circuits it has excelled at so far this year, prompting him to urge caution about any hopes at Imola this weekend.
“We have a pretty strong car overall, but looking back at the first three races, I think, in some races, we expected to be slower than we actually were,” said Leclerc.
“So here, I think we hope the track suits our car a bit better, but I think it won’t be a surprise if it’s the other way around and we’re less strong than we thought.”
“We have to continue to be cautious. I think everything is so close that it is difficult to predict if one team, Red Bull or us, will have the advantage. There is also the rain this weekend, which is something we still don’t know with these cars, conditions with which we have also had problems in the past.
“It’s going to be very important tomorrow to adapt to these conditions as quickly as possible, and to be in the right window from the start.”