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Leclerc admits Ferraris have problems but says they also have hope

Charles Leclerc said on Thursday that he and the Ferrari team are concerned about their continuing reliability problems, but still believe in their potential. 

The Monegasque driver will pay the price for mechanical problems with a 10-place grid penalty at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Ferrari changed two electronic engine components in Leclerc’s car over the opening weekend in Bahrain and announced on Wednesday that they were switching a third time. That means that before the second race has even started Leclerc has passed the permitted total of two changes in a power unit for the 23-race season.

“It’s the way it is,” he said. “It’s the beginning of the season and, of course, it’s not the ideal start. But what can I do about it?

“Now we need to focus on what is ahead, what we can do to be a better team, to do better.

“This weekend we are starting from the back foot, but our target is to try and do something special. I like this challenge of starting a little bit more on the back foot and trying to do something special and come back to the front as quickly as possible!”

He said he had been working to galvanise the team and rebuild morale after the season-opening race in Bahrain where he was forced to retire due to the power unit problem. 

“We’ve still got many races to go and we still need to be fighting like crazy to be back at the top and keep pushing,” he conceded. 

“I still believe in it and of course we still need to all believe in it because it’s only the first race. So, it hasn’t gone as planned — and when it’s Ferrari and it doesn’t go as well as it should, then there are lots of voices and all of this around the team.”

Carlos Sainz echoed his team-mates sentiments.

“Yes, for sure, we are concerned,” said the Spaniard. “It’s not the way to start the season with a penalty at race two. We have identified the battery issues as a weakness and it has taken us by surprise. 

“We are putting things in place to fix it and we’re pretty sure that we are capable of fixing that in the short term.

“But, for now, it’s a bad situation. So, we have to fix it, go forward and be more competitive.”

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