Charles Leclerc says Ferrari should take pride in the progress it has made from 2020 to 2021 in closing the performance gap to the top teams, while acknowledging it remains a work in progress.
Ferrari finished sixth in the constructors’ championship last year and often struggled to reach Q3 due to a combination of an uncompetitive power unit and poor chassis. In last season’s Bahrain Grand Prix, both drivers dropped out in Q2 and Leclerc finished the race a lap down in 10th place, but this year he qualified fourth and finished a much stronger sixth.
“If I look at where we were last year at exactly the same place, there has been a good progress,” Leclerc said. “Surely we want to be fighting for the win very, very soon but realistically and honestly we’ve done a great job to now be closer to McLaren at least and fighting with them in the race, so let’s see in Imola.
“It’s good — we still need to push on (the power unit) and keep improving on that. But it’s a step from last year. As we’ve seen I think last year we were definitely not fighting for the same positions we have been (in Bahrain). So there’s still a lot more work to come but we also have to acknowledge any time we do a big step forward, and this year (that) is the case. So it’s a great job from the team.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto agrees that the signs from Bahrain were promising, as the car delivered in the way Ferrari expected.
“Relative to expectations as far as how it compared to our simulations, I think we saw good correlation which is something that is important to us,” Binotto said. “It’s something that we developed last year to improve, and we have. So I think the car is behaving (correctly) — that was first.
“Our performance, I think we had some ideas coming from the winter testing, those three days. We knew we had a better car compared to what we had last year, no doubt, relative to the competitors. Definitely we had a good qualifying, the race was a bit tougher. So, happy because we are progressing, but not that happy because we want to be even better than that.
“We know it will take time, but step-by-step — I think that’s the way we are approaching the results.”