This weekend’s comparable one-lap speed between Ferrari and Red Bull has fueled anticipation for a potential race-long competition in the sprint event, if Leclerc and Verstappen replicate their qualifying results in the decisive shootout session.
In the event that Verstappen, Leclerc’s 2022 title adversary, outperforms him in the grid for Saturday afternoon’s race, Leclerc is banking on the DRS becoming active in the second lap of sprint races, instead of the third lap in a grand prix, to give Ferrari an edge in staying close to Red Bull.
Leclerc, having qualified second for the GP, explained: “There’s a new rule that lets us activate DRS after the first lap during the sprint. This somewhat assists us as it allows us to maintain a one-second gap a bit more easily thanks to DRS.” He added a note of realism, though, stating, “But they’re extremely fast, so it’s going to be a tough challenge regardless.”
Leclerc and his co-driver Carlos Sainz aren’t overly optimistic about beating Verstappen in either Red Bull Ring race. They acknowledge that their cars are “very different from last year,” according to Leclerc. This refers to the 2022 Austrian GP, where he triumphed over Verstappen.
Ferrari’s hesitation is due to uncertainty about transforming their promising performance from the Canadian race into consistent improvement in tyre wear, an area where they’ve traditionally lagged behind Red Bull.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Alex Albon, Williams FW45
Photo by: Andy Hone / F1 Flow Images
Speaking about Ferrari’s race pace potential in Austria, Sainz said, “Even a short stint in the sprint race still requires quite a long duration for the tyres we may use.” He added, “We’re looking at around 20 laps, which is roughly the same stint length as a regular race. Therefore, tyre wear and race pace remain critical factors.”
While acknowledging last year’s victory over Max, Sainz said, “It’s a different year, a different car. They’ve gotten significantly stronger since then.” He admitted, “Actually, I believe last year’s Austria race was their only, or final, weak performance. They’ve been exceptional in races ever since. It’ll be very challenging to compete with them, but anything’s possible in F1.”
Leclerc confessed that Ferrari’s decision to add “a bit more front wing for the last run in Q3” didn’t work as expected, considering the 0.048s gap to Verstappen at the end of that session. “It probably was a smidge too much,” he admitted. “But in the end, it’s all part of the game.”
Despite being close to the pole position, which he sees as a positive sign, Leclerc stated, “We all know that our weakness is the race. So, we’re looking forward to the race to see if we can replicate the positive indications we saw in Montreal.”
Leclerc concluded by praising the team’s efforts: “The team has done a fantastic job, investing a lot of effort to bring the upgrades earlier than expected. This helped us feel more confident with the car during the qualifiers.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ferrari vs Red Bull
Q: What is the special DRS rule that Leclerc hopes to exploit in the F1 sprint race against Verstappen?
A: The special DRS rule in the F1 sprint race allows DRS activation on the second lap, rather than the third lap as in a regular grand prix. Leclerc hopes this will help Ferrari stick close to Red Bull by enabling them to stay within one second more easily.
Q: How confident is Leclerc about Ferrari’s chances of beating Verstappen in the Red Bull Ring race?
A: Leclerc and his teammate, Carlos Sainz, are not overly confident about beating Verstappen in either Red Bull Ring race. They acknowledge that Ferrari and Red Bull have very different cars this year, and Red Bull has become much stronger since their last weak race in Austria.
Q: What is Ferrari’s main weakness against Red Bull?
A: Ferrari’s main weakness against Red Bull has been consistent improved tire degradation. While they have shown promise in race stints, they are unsure if they can convert that into consistent performance against Red Bull, who has been strong in the races.
Q: What did Leclerc say about Ferrari’s qualifying performance and their weakness in races?
A: Leclerc mentioned that Ferrari added a bit more front wing for the last qualifying run, but it backfired slightly. He acknowledged their close proximity to pole position as a positive sign, but also mentioned that their weakness lies in the race rather than qualifying.
Q: How does Leclerc view the upcoming race against Verstappen and Red Bull?
A: Leclerc views the upcoming race against Verstappen and Red Bull as an extremely difficult challenge. He acknowledges their strength in races and the improvements they have made since their last weak performance. However, he also believes that anything can happen in Formula 1, leaving room for unexpected outcomes.
More about Ferrari vs Red Bull
- Ferrari and Red Bull closely matched on one-lap speed
- New DRS rule for F1 sprint races
- Leclerc’s comments on the DRS rule and Red Bull’s pace
- Ferrari’s concerns about race pace and tire degradation
- Comparison of Ferrari and Red Bull cars this year
- Sainz’s comments on Ferrari’s chances against Verstappen
- Analysis of Leclerc’s qualifying performance and Ferrari’s weaknesses