Speaking at Scuderia Ferrari’s 2023 car launch last week, Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc affirmed his desire to go one better than last year and clinch the Formula One title this season.
Leclerc finished second in the drivers’ standings last year, behind eventual winner Max Verstappen. The Ferrari driver looked capable of mounting a title challenge in the early part of the season, but a significant drop-off in performance, as well as some strategic errors, allowed Verstappen to ease to a second consecutive World Championship.
The Monégasque finished 146 points behind his Dutch rival, and Leclerc’s objective is now to close that gap and win the title.
Matching virtual and reality
“It is a good feeling to see the car for the first time. It’s great to see the full car now after all of the work that was done over the winter, and also during last season. We’ll see when we get it on the track to see if it’s as quick as on the simulator,” said Leclerc upon the unveiling of the Ferrari SF23 in Maranello last week.
“On the simulator, the feeling was good, but you always have to wait for the first laps on track to see if the virtual data matches the reality. I get the impression that the small problems that we had with the car last year have been improved upon this year. The feeling is good and now we just have to see on the track,” he continued.
Leclerc setting his sights high
Whilst questions over the performance of the car remain, Leclerc is lucid in his expectations for the upcoming season.
“The objective this season is to try and improve on last year and to win the title. We finished second last year, so improving means winning. It won’t be easy. In any case, there was a lot of work done to allow us to make a step forward this year with this car. I hope it will pay off,” he said.
Leclerc also delved into the details of his gruelling pre-season preparations, which this year took him to the Dolomites: “I did lots of physical training in the first part of the winter and I also spent a bit of time with family and friends. We did a lot of physical preparation in Italy in the Dolomites.”
“Las Vegas will be particularly special”
Leclerc is targeting success at the usual tracks. This season, he will be hoping to put the curse of Monaco to bed and finally win his home Grand Prix, whilst winning at Monza in a Ferrari is also a natural ambition. The grid will also head to Las Vegas for the first time this season, and Leclerc is already eyeing up a victory in the Nevada desert.
“Monaco and Monza like every year and Las Vegas as well because it’s a new track. I really think that it will be an exceptional Grand Prix and event. In the United States, Formula One is currently growing massively, we feel that, and so I think Las Vegas will be particularly special,” said Leclerc.
The season will get underway in Bahrain on 5th March, and Leclerc will be hoping to repeat last year’s performance by winning under the lights of Sakhir.
Photo by Scuderia Ferrari