The goal is to win – Charles Leclerc determined to end Ferrari’s long wait

Charles Leclerc has said his goal is to end 16 years of injury at Ferrari by winning the Formula One world championship this season.

Leclerc won two of last year’s opening three rounds, but added just one more victory from the next 19 races – finishing the season 146 points behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – as he departed his title challenge through a litany of mechanical and strategic mistakes.

Frederic Vasseur has replaced Mattia Binotto as team principal as he aims to end Ferrari’s championship drought dating back to Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 victory.

And Leclerc, who is preparing for his fifth season with Ferrari, is the most likely man to lead the team.

Speaking at Ferrari’s season launch in Fiorano, the 25-year-old Monegasque said: “Obviously the goal is to win.

“The feeling of winning is what motivates me, and what motivates the team as well, so I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car and hopefully trying to win that championship.

“2022 was a good step forward after two difficult years, but we finished second in the drivers’ championship and the constructors’ championship as well.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc

Carlos Sainz (left) and Charles Leclerc are set for a third season together at Ferrari (PA Media/Ferrari)

“We’ve done a great job trying to address the car’s weaknesses and hopefully it will be better this season.”

Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz completed a handful of shakedown laps on Tuesday morning at the team’s private track in Fiorano, a stone’s throw from their Maranello base in northern Italy.

Ferrari trailed Red Bull by 205 points in the constructors’ standings last season, but Vasseur is confident the Italian team is ready to take the fight to Verstappen and Red Bull when the new campaign kicks off in Bahrain on March 5.

“I don’t want to be very happy because I’m at Ferrari,” said the former Alfa Romeo team principal. “The most important thing is to win and that challenge is now in front of us. It will be a long season but the motivation is there.

“It’s no secret last year that reliability wasn’t the best feature of our engine, but we’ve done a good job at the factory and we’re now ready for the season.

“You can feel the responsibility of the team, and it’s a great honor, but the most important thing is to be successful and deliver. We are in a good place.”

Lewis Hamilton and team-mate George Russell will unveil their Mercedes at Silverstone on Wednesday ahead of next week’s one pre-season test in Bahrain.

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