Charles Leclerc has reiterated his desire to become Formula 1 World Champion with Ferrari after their poor start to the 2023 season.
Hopes were high that the SF-23 could be the machine to carry Leclerc or Carlos Sainz to a maiden title and end Ferrari's long drought in the drivers' championship, which stretches back to 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen.
However, after five races, Leclerc has just one podium to his name and is 85 points behind leader Max Verstappen heading into Ferrari's home race at Imola this weekend.
Owing to the Scuderia's lack of performance, Leclerc has also been touted as a potential replacement for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes when he ultimately leaves.
The Monegasque was fairly dismissive about the speculation, but stopped short of fully ruling out the rumours, but has since confirmed his desire to be the driver to end the long wait at Maranello.
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Leclerc on title dreams
During his time at Ferrari, the team have finished second, sixth, fourth, and second in the Constructors' standings, going winless in both 2020 and 2021 while his early season form in 2022 tailed off to finish a distant runner-up.
But he still wants to emulate the likes of John Surtees, Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher in bringing the title to Italy.
"I want to win, and I want it to be in red," Leclerc said when speaking with The Athletic.
"This is clear, and I am not happy about the performance we’ve been giving in the last few years, it’s not been so consistent.
"There was quite a lot of expectation for this year, and at the end, we are seeing that we’re not as competitive as what we want.
“But looking back at it, trying to analyse it with [new Team Principal Frederic Vasseur], with the team, we understood a few things.
"I have a bit more of a clearer picture of why we are where we are now."
Dealing with history
Every year a Ferrari driver fails to win the title, the weight of expectation grows, with the wait set to extend into a 17th season in 2024.
That is not the Scuderia's longest wait, as before Schumacher claimed the 2000 title, the last Ferrari champion was Jody Scheckter in 1979.
And Leclerc is drawing inspiration from what Schumacher and then-team boss Jean Todt did.
"[The pressure] was like this when Michael and Jean were there too, and they managed to cope with it brilliantly, so we cannot complain, and it cannot be an excuse," he explained.
"That is also a part of why Ferrari is so special.
"There is the passion to it that I don’t think any other team has.
"It is more difficult to manage the difficult situations, because you’ve got more emotions to it.
"But at the end, it’s Ferrari. I wouldn’t change it."
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