Charles Leclerc says Ferrari’s all-new car for 2022 “feels very different”.
He was speaking in Austria, having recently tried a virtual version of next year’s red car in the Ferrari simulator at Maranello.
“It feels very different. It’s a very different project,” said the Monaco-born driver.
Ferrari was one of the first teams to announce that the vast bulk of its focus this year was on designing and developing a car for the next set of regulations.
Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, however, thinks the team’s founder Enzo Ferrari would not have accepted a slide into the midfield.
“It’s sad to see this happen to the biggest car brand in racing,” he told Blick newspaper.
“In the past, Mr Ferrari would not have accepted these results from his cars. He would have fired people, changed everything, tried to change the rules.
“Personalities like that are missing in the sport today,” the 90-year-old said.
However, Ferrari has high hopes for the 2022 project, even if Leclerc insists it is too early to assess how well his car for next year handles.
“It’s still very early, so nobody knows where it is compared to the other teams,” said the 23-year-old. “It’s a big question mark for everyone whether we are doing well with the development or not.
“For now it’s just numbers and predictions, but as drivers we can give our opinion – especially in the simulator.
“We have a very good simulator, we can try so many different things, and what the driver can contribute is very important,” Leclerc added.
“We can only try our best to eradicate the mistakes in this year’s car, even if it is a completely different project.”
As for Ecclestone, he also hopes Ferrari can return to top form as soon as possible.
“For the audience, it’s important that Max Verstappen doesn’t start to dominate as much as Lewis Hamilton has until now,” he said.
“It is time for Ferrari to finally be able to compete at the top again.”