Charles Leclerc does not expect it will be easy to rise through the field from 12th on the grid in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix because of to how compact the midfield is.
The Ferraro driver qualified second for Sunday’s race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit but will start ten places lower down the order after serving a grid penalty for using his third control electronics of the season.
Despite having lapped closest to the time of pole winner Sergio Perez in the Red Bull, Leclerc says he does not expect it will be simple for him to rise up the order.
“I don’t know how easy it’s going to be to overtake on this track because the midfield seems to be all extremely close in terms of race pace,” he said. “And if you have a DRS train, then it makes things very difficult.
“But I’ll give my best and try to come back to the front as quickly as possible and we’ll see what happens.”
Despite getting within a tenth-and-a-half of Perez’s pole-winning Red Bull, Leclerc believes Ferrari still have a lot of work to do in order to pose a credible challenge to the world champions.
“In the lap, I’m really, really happy – it was really on the limit,” he said. “On the other hand, I feel like the Red Bulls are quite far ahead. And that is our goal – to beat them. So there’s still a lot of work to do.
“Having said that, I think it’s a bit better than what we expected for this qualifying session. We expected to be a bit further back, but there’s a lot of work to do still.”
While admitting Ferrari’s race pace is stronger in Jeddah than in the opening round in Bahrain, Leclerc said it had been a difficult weekend for the team to try and extract performance from the SF-23.
“To be honest, if you ask me to pinpoint one thing, it’s very difficult,” he said. “It’s just that we were quite slow. Just overall grip to be honest.
“I think our race pace is stronger this weekend, so this is a good thing.”
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2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
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