Charles Leclerc sends Max Verstappen warning with Red Bull fight ‘only a matter of time’ | F1 | Sport

Charles Leclerc has stated that it is ‘only a matter of time’ before Ferrari can take the fight to Red Bull, despite the reigning champions dominating the opening two Grands Prix of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Three-time world champion Max Verstappen has looked comfortable while kicking off his title defence, leading home back-to-back Red Bull one-two finishes and extending his race-winning streak to a sensational nine Grands Prix. Ferrari, meanwhile have been left to celebrate successive P3 finishes.

However, there are clear signs of life from Red Bull’s closest competitors and while Mercedes and McLaren have failed to close the gap over the winter, Ferrari are emerging as the clear second-fastest team. In Saudi Arabia, Leclerc crossed the line under 19 seconds behind the race winner.

“We are taking small steps in the right direction,” Leclerc told Motorsport Italy. “The gap to Red Bull is still considerable, but if we keep working like this, I am sure it will only be a matter of time before we put Red Bull under more pressure.”

While Leclerc is expecting Ferrari to close the gap eventually, he doesn’t believe that Melbourne will be the weekend. “I don’t think we will have a lot of new things on the car in Melbourne, so at the moment we will just have to maximise our current package,” he said.

“At the moment our situation is this. I think we’ll have to wait and see when we have new parts on the car and what kind of step forward we will make. Hopefully, that will bring us closer to Red Bull.”

Leclerc also pointed out how while Ferrari are chasing performance at Maranello, their ability to hunt down the Constructors’ Championship leaders is somewhat reliant on Red Bull’s upgrade schedule. “I am sure our time will come,” he added. “I don’t know what Red Bull has in store in terms of updates, but that will define when we will be able to match them.”

The Monegasque driver won’t have to wait long to see the effects of Red Bull’s planned upgrades. Ahead of the season opener in Bahrain, Helmut Marko confirmed that the Milton Keynes-based outfit will bring their first major improvement package to the Japanese Grand Prix, which is the race after the upcoming one in Melbourne.

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