Ferrari started the season at the front and won two of the first three world championship races, clearly intending to end a title drought dating back to the 2008 constructors’ championship.
But the combination of strategic disasters (particularly at Silverstone and Budapest ) and his early unreliability have largely contributed to his unraveling drivers’ and teams’ championship aspirations.
Red Bull, meanwhile, claimed its first constructors’ crown since 2013 with three grands prix to go thanks to Max Verstappen’s victory at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
As it ran out of options, Ferrari began to turn its attention to preparation for 2023, using the final races of this year to improve its pit stop procedures and strategy decisions.
Although Charles Leclerc acknowledged that the F1-75 still can’t match the huge increase in pace that Red Bull can find between qualifying and the race, the Monegasque said Ferrari “is coming”.
At the press conference ahead of this weekend’s Mexican GP, Leclerc discussed the chances of ending a winless streak dating back to the French GP at the end of July.
“It’s hard to tell right now,” he replied at first. “I still believe that Red Bull will be the team to beat on Sunday.”
“They always seem to find something from Saturday to Sunday that we haven’t found yet, but we’re getting it.”
Asked by Motorsport.com to clarify the areas in which Ferrari felt most confident of catching up with Red Bull, Leclerc focused on race execution rather than car pace.
However, he felt that all the attention paid to putting out more speed would soon pay off, given the team’s ability to improve quickly, in his opinion.
He continued: “I was referring mostly to the performance on Sunday, not the performance itself.”
“But as I mentioned, for a few races now, we’ve been working a lot on the strategy, on the communication part as well. I feel like we’re taking steps in the right direction.”
“But of course there is still a performance gap on Sundays to Red Bull that we still need to find and improve on.”
“That’s what we’re working on. We haven’t found a solution yet. But we’re working well. And again, once we focus on one thing, we usually improve very quickly on it.”
“So I am confident that the results will come soon.”
Leclerc arrives at the weekend in Mexico second in the drivers’ standings, just two points ahead of Sergio Pérez, with whom the runner-up is at stake.