MELBOURNE, April 8 (Infoday US) – Formula One leader Charles Leclerc said Albert Park’s revamp may not suit Ferrari and could hand rivals Red Bull an advantage at the Australian Grand Prix.
The lakeside circuit has been resurfaced and had corners removed in a bid to promote passing in its first upgrade in a quarter of a century.
“Probably for our car I would prefer to stay with the old layout but that’s only from a performance point of view,” Leclerc told reporters on Friday.
“The only reason why I’m saying that is just because Red Bull seems to be very strong in the straight lines … and there are quite a lot of straight lines in general now so we might struggle a bit more.”
Leclerc won the season-opener in Bahrain and is 20 points ahead of Red Bull’s world champion Max Verstappen, who bounced back from a non-finish to win the last race in Saudi Arabia.
The pair’s battles in the Middle East doubleheader have spiced up the series and more tactical duelling could be in store with Albert Park featuring four DRS zones in a first for F1.
The use of the DRS — the adjustment of rear wing flaps to reduce drag — was key in Jeddah, where neither Leclerc nor Verstappen wanted to lead in the final lap so that they could activate the system to overtake the other.
Dutchman Verstappen liked that Albert Park would be a quicker track on balance but was not convinced the changes would lead to more wheel-to-wheel racing on Sunday.
“Here, naturally on Sunday, it’s been a bit more difficult to pass,” Verstappen told reporters.
“So I can understand them to have four DRS zones to improve the racing, but I think also we have to wait and see how the layout is going to help.
“If you still can’t pass, I don’t think an extra DRS will help.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford
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