Last year Charles Leclerc was cheered by thousands of passionate Ferrari fans at Monza after he ended the team’s nine-year wait for victory at its home circuit.
Fast forward 12 months and things will be very different at Formula One’s Italian Grand Prix and not just because of the lack of fans because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ferrari’s bad year is getting worse as each race goes by. Leclerc finished 14th at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, just behind teammate Sebastian Vettel. Both were over a minute behind race winner and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
“No miracles expected this weekend but hopefully we can be a bit better than we were at Spa,” Leclerc said at a news conference on Thursday.
Vettel is a four-time champion but has not even finished in the top five this season — and has been 10th or lower in four races.
“I’m not going to lie it’s not going to be an easy weekend for us,” Vettel said. “I think it’s very difficult to expect a big change from last weekend. Having said that though, last weekend we were a little bit worse off than normal so I hope we can be back to normal.
“But we also know that these type of tracks do hurt us by nature so we will see. We’re here to fight and we’re here to fight for the tifosi (fans) as well and we are doing the utmost we can.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto seems at a loss on how to turn things around at the once-dominant Ferrari and said recently that it could take years before it is back in a winning cycle.
Vettel will not be there for that as he is leaving at the end of the season but Leclerc is under contract until the