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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc predicts quick end to Verstappen and Red Bull struggles

Canada may again pose a problem for Red Bull but after that...

Leclerc Canada
To news overview © XPBimages

Charles Leclerc is fully expecting Max Verstappen and Red Bull to rediscover their form once the F1 circus returns to what he claims will be 'more normal tracks'.

The drivers' and constructors' champions have suffered a surprising dip in performance of late, with McLaren's Lando Norris winning his maiden grand prix in Miami, and Ferrari driver Leclerc dominating last time out around his home circuit of Monaco.

In between, although Verstappen won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from pole position at Imola, it was an uncomfortable weekend as Norris came within three-quarters of a second of securing back-to-back wins.

Around Monaco, a weakness of the RB20 was brutally exposed as it struggled to ride the kerbs, a crucial element that could again pose issues across this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Beyond that, however, Leclerc feels once F1 returns to Europe, there is a run of circuits that will likely play to Red Bull's strengths.

"We are about to have three races in a row, including this one (Canada), where kerb riding and bumps are important," said Leclerc, who goes into Sunday's race trailing Verstappen by 31 points.

"Bumps are not so big here [the track was resurfaced over the winter] but kerb riding is a big thing. I think we will see a similar trend at this race but from Barcelona onwards, Red Bull will do a step up. I hope that's not the case.

"We've done a good job when we look at the first part of our season considering we have been a step behind Red Bull. We are not that far, and we haven't lost many points, and that's the most important thing.

"We just need to keep focusing on ourselves, and hopefully bring new parts as quickly as possible to close the gap at tracks that are a bit more normal for Red Bull and put them under a bit more pressure."

Canada has proven to be a relatively happy hunting ground for Ferrari in recent years. Sebastian Vettel won in 2018, whilst he and Leclerc finished second and third a year later.

After a two-year Covid-enforced absence, Carlos Sainz was runner-up in 2022. Last year, however, he and Leclerc could only manage fifth and fourth respectively after a wretched qualifying as they started eighth and 11th.

Leclerc feels he and Sainz are in the running to score what would be the Scuderia's first win at this circuit fox six years.

"Over the years, what we have been missing to win was a car that was good enough to win," assessed Leclerc.

"Last year, we struggled in qualifying. We were very fast in the race, but we started too far away. This year, I believe there could be an opportunity.

"As I said, I don't think it [the track] highlights Red Bull's strengths, so it might be an opportunity for us.

"We will be very closely matched with McLaren and Red Bull. We've got to maximise everything and then at the end of the weekend, the result will be better than the ones we've seen in past years."

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