The goal is to win – Charles Leclerc determined to end long Ferrari wait

The goal is to win – Charles Leclerc determined to end long Ferrari wait

Charles Leclerc said it is his goal to end 16 years of Ferrari hurt by winning this season’s Formula One world championship.

Leclerc triumphed at two of last year’s opening three rounds, but added only one more victory from the next 19 races – finishing the season 146 points behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – as his title challenge faded away through a litany of mechanical and strategic mistakes.

Frederic Vasseur has since replaced Mattia Binotto as team principal with the aim of ending Ferrari’s championship drought which stretches back to Kimi Raikkonen’s triumph in 2007.

And Leclerc, who is preparing for his fifth season with Ferrari, is viewed as the man most likely to lead the team’s charge.

Speaking at the Ferrari’s season launch in Fiorano, the 25-year-old Monegasque said: “The goal is clearly to win.

“The feeling of winning is what motivates me, and motivates the team, too, so I am really looking forward to getting back into the car and to hopefully try and win that championship.

“2022 was a good step forward following two difficult years, but we finished second in the drivers’ championship and also in the constructors’ championship.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc
Carlos Sainz (left) and Charles Leclerc are set for a third season together at Ferrari (PA Media/Ferrari)

“We have done a great job trying to address the weaknesses that there were on the car and hopefully it will be better this season.”

Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz completed a handful of shakedown laps on Tuesday morning at the team’s private track in Fiorano, a stone’s throw from their Maranello base in northern Italy.

Ferrari trailed Red Bull by 205 points in the constructors’ standings last season, but Vasseur is confident the Italian team is ready to take the fight to Verstappen and Red Bull when the new campaign fires up in Bahrain on March 5.

“I don’t want to be very happy just because I am at Ferrari,” said the former Alfa Romeo team principal. “The most important thing is to win and that challenge is now in front of us. It will be a long season but the motivation is there.

“Last year it is no secret that reliability was not the best aspect of our engine, but we have done a good job at the factory and we are now ready for the season.

“You can feel the responsibility for the team, and it is a great honour, but the most important thing is to be successful and deliver. We are in a good place.”

Lewis Hamilton and team-mate George Russell will unveil their Mercedes at Silverstone on Wednesday ahead of next week’s sole pre-season test in Bahrain.