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Blunt honesty about performance is not that hard to come by in F1, given how the data and results speak louder than words in the circuit. And currently what’s evident is how, within Ferrari, the performance gap has ironically widened. The departing Carlos Sainz has stepped his game up multifold while the retained Charles Leclerc seems to have lost confidence. Speaking about this worrying aspect, ahead of a golden opportunity at the Chinese GP, the Monegasque even admitted how he has failed to match his teammate’s high class.

Lewis Hamilton pushing him out of Ferrari and his body losing an appendix seems to have given Carlos Sainz great motivation according to many. Evidently, the racer stood on the podium for all races he has participated in 2024, including the win in Australia. He has decidedly hit his prime, which has made Charles Leclerc succumb to the pressure of intra-team comparisons.

In the last two races, he [Sainz] has been stronger,” Leclerc admitted to the media in Shanghai. “It’s up to me now to work, especially in the qualifying pace, which is normally a strength. I’ve been struggling to put the lap together; it’s a very fine line to get it right or completely wrong on the out-lap and putting the tires in the right window.”

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After revealing his plans for China, Leclerc further spoke about his performance gap to Sainz. For now, I have been struggling more than what Carlos has done. He’s driving at a very high level, which I think is great for the team, it’s great for me as well.”

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Going into the race weekend in China, Sainz clearly has the upper hand on Leclerc. But how Ferrari fares on the high-degradation Shanghai International Circuit compared to Red Bull adds an extra layer of variability to the intra-team dynamics as well.

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Charles Leclerc warns Red Bull of Ferrari’s pace in China

The Chinese F1 Circuit is known to be a nightmare for cars that aren’t good at managing tires. Ferrari is one such team that has been nursing tire degradation issues forever. Despite this, the Maranello outfit expects to be faster around here than Japan. And according to Leclerc, their SF24 will be much closer to challenging Red Bull for the podium places.

Written by

Yash Kotak

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Yash is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a strong passion for communicating through written word and a keen interest in the world of motorsports, he thoroughly enjoys being a fan of F1 and covering it for other fans. Ever since he watched the 'INSIDE TRACKS' episode covering the 2018 German Grand Prix, he has fallen in love with the intriguingly complex world of F1.
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Edited by

Ariva Debnath