Charles Leclerc believes the performance of Ferrari’s upgraded car in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix bodes well for the coming races.

However he said the team needs to find an answer for its rivals’ “weird” technique for boosting their speed on the straights.

Ferrari arrived at Imola with a package of new parts for their car which they tested ahead of this weekend’s race. Although they appeared to be closer to the front of the field than previous rounds in China and Miami, Leclerc was still beaten by Max Verstappen and Lando Norris.

Over the long second stint on hard tyres, Leclerc caught up to Norris ahead before a mistake at the Variante Alta chicane caused him to drop out of touch with the McLaren driver. Despite not being able to fight for the race win, Leclerc said he was pleased to have secured a top three finish.

“At least it’s a podium,” Leclerc said. “Of course. I’m only very happy when I win and today, we didn’t quite make it.

“We were very fast at the beginning of the stint with the hards. I started to push to try and put some pressure on Lando, but later on they were incredibly quick.”

Although Leclerc and Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr qualified in fourth and fifth, respectively, before Oscar Piastri’s penalty promoted both up one position each on the grid, Leclerc was encouraged by his team’s performance on Sunday.

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“All-in-all, I think the race pace today was quite strong,” he said, revealing the team identified a possible area of improvement on Saturday.

“We lacked a bit yesterday in qualifying. After looking, we missed on the front straight, especially – which we’ll look into – but on the rest of the lap, we were quick. So it’s looking good for the rest of the season.”

Leclerc said Ferrari’s analysis of qualifying indicated their rivals have found a way to improve their performance on the straights.

“I think our race pace is very, very strong,” he told Sky. “I’m more optimistic than yesterday looking back at the qualifying because this is where I think we are lacking on a weekend like this.

“What makes me optimistic is that if I look back at the data, I thought we were losing in turn two, three, four, which would have been tyre related again. But it wasn’t the case. We lost everything in the straights, and they are doing something weird with the energy, engine-wise, McLaren and Red Bull.”

However he is confident Ferrari can find an answer to their rivals’ advantage. “We’ve got to look into it but [it’s] nothing that is not possible to change.

“So, we’ll look into that and once we fix that, I think we’ve got a real shot of going back on the top step for the podium.”

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2024 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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