Leclerc: Ferrari behind Aston Martin on race pace
By Mat Coch
Monday 1st May, 2023 - 11:55am
Charles Leclerc has claimed Ferrari has only the third fastest car in race trim behind Red Bull and Aston Martin following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Leclerc recorded his and Ferrari’s best result of 2023 with third on the streets of Baku.
The Monegasque driver had started on pole but quickly fell behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
The two Red Bull drivers went on to deliver the team its third one-two result in four races, while Leclerc snagged his first podium of the campaign.
“Got closer, maybe a little, but still very far behind in race pace at least,” he said of the gap to the cars ahead.
“I also think we are behind Aston Martin in terms of race pace, so we really need to work on that.”
Leclerc hung on to third in the race by just 0.8s from a charging Fernando Alonso.
The Aston Martin driver rose to fourth shortly after his pit stop under Safety Car conditions before he held station behind the Ferrari.
He dropped as far back as 4.5s before lifting his pace in the final 10 laps to put pressure on Leclerc.
“He was he was pushing,” he said.
“I knew what he is intentions were at the beginning, because he always does that; trying to keep the tyres at the beginning of the stains and push at the end, so I tried to do the same.
“At the end, it was close, but not enough for Fernando today.”
Leclerc claimed pole for both the F1 Sprint and Sunday’s grand prix, demonstrating strong single-lap pace in the SF-23.
The car also proved rapid in a straight line but ultimately had no answer to the class-leading RB19.
“For now, over one lap, taking a bit more risk – of course, I did also two great laps, I think, in qualifying which helped us to be in front – but then over 51 laps race, there’s not much we can do more,” Leclerc explained.
“Today, we’ve optimised absolutely everything.
“I think [what] we should be happy about after a weekend like this is that we’ve maximised every session.
“I don’t think we could have done anything better in any of those sessions, so that is a positive, but still a lot of work to do in terms of race pace.”
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