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Charles Leclerc

Ferrari handed Suzuka challenge by Leclerc in Red Bull pursuit

Charles Leclerc was second fastest in practice, but well behind the pace-setter of Max Verstappen at Suzuka.

Leclerc Japan
To news overview © XPBimages

Charles Leclerc has challenged Ferrari to be able to "put together" the remainder of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend in a bid to catch Red Bull.

Max Verstappen was in strong form on Friday at Suzuka, topping both practice sessions by at least three-tenths as Red Bull looks to bounce back from losing its spotless win record in 2023, to Ferrari in Singapore.

A new floor was trialled by the Scuderia on Friday, with the aim of improving airflow, as Leclerc ended the two sessions fourth and second, 0.320s down on Verstappen's benchmark in the latter.

The Monegasque feels that the team must continue on its recent upward curve and couple that with the upgrades to eat into Red Bull's advantage.

Leclerc's challenge

"It did what we expected it to do, which gives us a little bit of consistency, which was good to see," Leclerc explained of the new floor.

"I don't think there was a lot of performance in it, but it is good to see we are continuing to learn about the car, and over the last two or three races, we have learnt a lot.

"Now it is about putting it all together, which we did in Singapore.

"We need to do that now as Red Bull seems extremely quick this weekend.

"We understand the car much better than in Zandvoort, and that helps us to be on the good side of things because everything is so close with McLaren and Mercedes.

"Whenever we put our car in the right window, then we can be in front and that's what we've done in the last few races.

"[Practice] was a little better as in the last two or three races, I've always struggled with the car of the balance.

"I changed my driving style a little bit and the feeling it better, but obviously it's only one day.

"We need to keep pushing and hopefully make another step forward."

F1 2023 Japanese Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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