One may not exactly recollect but at the end of the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, the gap Charles Leclerc between and his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz was 19 points. Well, you wouldn’t care all that much about this stat belonging to a team that has one win to its name out of sixteen this year- would you?
Or maybe you would if you are a Tifosi.
Fact still is, the Madrid-born driver had accumulated 142 points upon the completion of his race under the sassy bright lights of Singapore while Leclerc’s tally was on 123.
The distance between the two donning red racing overalls was thanks to Sainz earning what still remains Ferrari’s only race win in the ongoing world championship and Leclerc managing a P4 at the Marina Bay.
However, at the completion of the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, the very next race after Singapore, i.e., F1’s latest Grand Prix, that gap has shrunken, if only, to an extent.
This means some movement in the right direction for the famed Monegasque.
At present, Charles Leclerc, currently P6 on the Drivers’ standings, has 135 points to his name while his Spanish teammate stands P5 on the table with 150 points.
What was a nineteen point gap to Sainz a little over a fortnight ago has now shrunk to fifteen.
But did you notice something about Charles Leclerc at Japan?
The number of points by which Leclerc brought down his gap to his teammate mirrors his exact race result at Suzuka, which hosted Formula 1’s 48th running of the Japanese Grand Prix.
While surely there’s been this vacuum in terms of podiums where his recent performances are concerned with Leclerc’s last podium dated back to July 30, the Ferrari driver’s effort at Suzuka wasn’t an entirely terrible one.
Not only did his latest fourth-place finish allow him to finish ahead of Sainz, something that, would you believe it, happened last at Spa-Francorchamps (where he scored a third), Charles’s race effort enabled Ferrari to keep up with some fight with Mercedes for the second spot on the Constructors’ rankings.
How Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are pushing the fight for Ferrari?
With results such as the P3 and P4 at Monza (Italian GP), followed by the race win and subsequently, the P4 at Singapore and now, the P4 and P6 at Suzuka, Ferrari are keeping up the ante of their attack on Mercedes.
The Woking team aren’t just any Constructor at this level of Grand Prix racing; they’ve, as seen in the sport’s recent past, knocked up Ferrari on multiple occasions.
There’s always been a silvery lining whenever it seemed it might well be a red-letter day.
Even as Ferrari failed to secure what would’ve been their third consecutive podium on the trot following Monza and Marina Bay’s sensational result, Leclerc and Sainz are, in the very least, ensuring that Russell and Sir Hamilton have no jog on the park.
Finding grip and great traction and unhindered pacy movability in the corners of Suzuka, Charles Leclerc was able to get the best he could out of the SF23 at the recent race. And eventually, even as he finished nearly seven seconds behind the brilliant Oscar Piastri at Japan, the Ferrari driver’s performance was a respectable one.
And how was that?
Charles Leclerc thanks to the P4, which was interestingly also the fourth time he bagged a fourth-placed result this year, meant that he was able to fend off a true legend at Japan.
Sir Lewis Hamilton, a five time winner at previous installations of the Japanese Grand Prix finished behind the Ferrari driver.
Where it came to the overall impact of the Ferrari versus Mercedes battle for second in the Constructor’s Standings, the red team currently trailing the Silver Arrows, it ought to be remembered that both Ferrari cars beat, finished ahead of, at least, one Mercedes machine; Sainz was P6 while Russell seventh in the end.
Surely, Charles wasn’t bluffing when he said the following about the general feeling of his car upon the completion of the qualifying at Japan:
“Red Bull seem to be extremely quick this weekend, but I don’t think we are too far off.”