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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc delivers verdict over Ferrari’s victory chances in Japan

Ferrari emerged victorious last time out at the Australian Grand Prix where Carlos Sainz took the race win to end Red Bull's strong run of form.

Leclerc Australia
To news overview © XPBimages

Charles Leclerc has conceded it will be difficult for Ferrari to again challenge Red Bull at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix compared to two weeks ago in Australia.

At Melbourne's Albert Park, Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz emerged victorious after capitalising on a terminal brake issue for Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Ferrari expressed confidence it could have contended for victory anyway even if Verstappen had not suffered his first mechanical failure in two years.

Suzuka, however, is set to offer teams and drivers a far different challenge, one which Leclerc believes will not play to Ferrari's strengths.

“I think for now, with what we know, I expect Red Bull to still have the upper hand this weekend,” Leclerc told media, including RacingNews365.

“Especially coming [on] race day, we have a particular strength at tracks where graining is a thing. In Australia, it was the case two weeks ago, and there we were very strong.

“This weekend, it's less a case of front graining, but more overall degradation. So I think Red Bull will get back to where they were before that.”

Leclerc hails Ferrari for maximising results

Leclerc currently sits just four points behind championship leader Verstappen in the drivers' standings after the opening three rounds, benefitting from the Dutchman's non-finish in Australia.

While Leclerc praised Ferrari for maximising its points intake, the Monégasque driver feels it does not reflect Ferrari's true performance.

“It's a very important part of the season where we need to maximise all the points that we can, which we have done,” he said.

“If we look at the first three races, I don't think that being only four points behind Red Bull represents our true performance.

“Yes, we are closer than what we were in the past but I think we've done a particularly good job at maximising what we have at the moment.

“Until the upgrades, which I hope will put us in a better position to fight them regularly on Sundays, we need to bring as many points home as possible.”

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