Leclerc: A 'very difficult season' awaits at Ferrari despite 'positive signs'

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Charles Leclerc has warned a "very difficult season" still awaits Ferrari in 2021 despite "positive signs".

Last year, the Italian team dropped to sixth in the Constructors' standings, their lowest finish since 1980, as enforced changes to their engine and a draggy car resulted in a dramatic loss of performance.

Efforts to address those weaknesses have been made for this year, with Ferrari spending their development tokens on a radical new rear to the car.

However, Leclerc, who still managed two podiums in 2020, acknowledged there's still a lot of work to be done.

“I know that, being realistic, it’s going to be a very difficult season,” he said via RaceFans on Thursday. “But that doesn’t change my motivation.

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“For me, if I’ve got a car where I feel like sixth is the best place we can do – I’m not saying it’s the case for this year it’s just an example – but if sixth is the best I can do, I’m extremely motivated to try and do third, second or first.

“So whatever we expect from us, I’m always finding the motivation to try to exceed those expectations, and that’s the way I will approach the season.”

Last year, however, that do or die approach by Leclerc didn't always work, with first lap crashes in Austria and Bahrain while trying audacious overtakes.

“It was definitely a difficult moment for the team and I was extremely motivated to do something special and that motivation sometimes translated to crashes onto the track, which wasn’t great,” the Monegasque conceded.

“As I have done in the past with my mistakes. I’ve always tried to understand why I have done them and tried to not do them again.

"I will still be as motivated to try and do great results and we will have to see where we are at exactly to adapt my aggressivity on track. Of course, I will try not to reproduce these types of mistakes.

“Let’s wait and see where we are again because I think there are positive signs already from the test and we will see for sure from Saturday onwards,” Leclerc added. “But I think I will probably choose my fights a little bit better."