Charles Leclerc explains why Ferrari are quicker than Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton to change his name

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Charles Leclerc has declared that Ferrari’s ‘mentality reset’ over the last two years has helped them to leapfrog Mercedes in terms of outright car performance this season. The Monegasque driver led a remarkable Ferrari one-two at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday ahead of Carlos Sainz, who also drove a near-perfect race to cap off a stunning start to the new campaign on all fronts.

Ferrari emerged as the early Constructors’ Championship favourites after turning plenty of heads with their impressive form in pre-season testing and followed up by claiming maximum points in style at the Bahrain International Circuit. Leclerc managed to keep the Red Bull pairing of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez at arm’s length without too much difficulty before the duo were ultimately forced to retire after suffering mechanical failures during the closing stages of the race.

The 24-year-old was also more than a second per lap quicker than Lewis Hamilton, who was gifted a third-placed finish as a result of Red Bull’s misfortune, for the vast majority of the contest. Mercedes were some way off the pace of their Italian rivals and Red Bull throughout the entire weekend and will have plenty of work to do in order to make amends over the course of the campaign as a whole.

Ferrari were unable to lay a glove on Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship standings in 2020 and 2021 but it seems as though their fortunes may be about to change if they can successfully maintain their upward trajectory between now and the end of the season. Leclerc believes that his team’s positive mental outlook has played a key role in shifting the balance of power at the top of the standings after a difficult two-year period for all those connected with the Prancing Horse.

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“It’s been a long time since we first started work on this car,” Leclerc told reporters after securing the third Grand Prix victory of his career in Bahrain. “There’s been a massive amount of work and also quite a mentality reset. After 2019 we had two very difficult years and the team at the factory have been working extremely well.

“We’ve also been very good at identifying the weaknesses of the previous cars and came with these new cars, a very strong car, and [that] made it possible for us to be fighting for better positions.”

Leclerc went on to add that Ferrari’s mid-season development will be crucial to shaping the outcome of this year’s battle for Constructors’ Championship glory as all 10 teams look to fine-tune their packages in compliance with the all-new technical regulations. “I really hope it will be the case,” he replied when asked if Ferrari will be able to stay on top of Mercedes and Red Bull for the rest of the season.

“I think this year, development will be very important, so we need to stay on it. The way we have worked in the past few years is impressive, and now we need to keep up that amount of work.”


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