Leclerc senses 'opportunity' at Canadian GP

Charles Leclerc smiles and looks up
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc has closed the gap to leader Max Verstappen in the drivers' championship to 31 points [Getty Images]

Charles Leclerc says Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix could be another "opportunity" for Ferrari to beat Red Bull after his victory in Monaco.

Leclerc, who became the second driver to beat Max Verstappen in three races, said the Montreal circuit may be another that does not suit Red Bull's car.

Leclerc said: "Monaco was particularly favourable (for Ferrari). Maybe here it is neutral.

"I don't think it puts too much in light the strength of the Red Bull so it might again be an opportunity for us."

McLaren’s Lando Norris, who beat Verstappen's Red Bull into second place in Miami last month, said he believed Ferrari were "favourites" for victory in Canada. "But it is going to be close," he said.

Both Norris and Leclerc believe the Red Bull's limitations over kerbs - one of the key reasons for their lack of pace in Monaco, where Verstappen could finish only sixth - could again be a weakness around Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Leclerc said: "I don't think their strength is kerb riding and here there is quite a lot of kerb riding."

There is also rain predicted at various points of the weekend.

Verstappen said: "I always knew Monaco would not be an easy weekend. We had a good direction we wanted to work in. It takes time, step by step. We will try to improve that.

"This is a good opportunity to find performance we didn't think about in the first place. There is quite a lot of lap time to be unlocked from that and finally we are putting a lot of effort into that.

"We still have a quick car but some tracks just work a little bit better for us than others. Here it is not just the track layout, it is dealing with the weather and how wet it is going to be."

Norris said that the F1 field had closed up sufficiently that the Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren drivers could all realistically head into races believing they had a chance to win.

The 24-year-old Briton finished less than a second behind Verstappen when the Dutchman won in Imola the week before Monaco and his team-mate Oscar Piastri was second in Monaco.

Norris said: "The guys in the top six cars, we are all coming into it thinking maybe this is our weekend if we can make an extra little bit of difference, if we can find that last 0.01secs.

"And that makes everyone push it even more, right? Kind of take that little bit more risk and get that little bit more out of themselves and that is an exciting time, pushing ourselves to the absolute limit."

Leclerc, who cut Verstappen's championship lead to 31 points with his Monaco win, played down suggestions he was becoming a title contender.

"I am not thinking about the championship yet," Leclerc said. "But definitely the target is to be able to win races every weekend.

"I still believe Red Bull has the upper hand in performance. Luckily for us, Imola, Monaco and probably this track is not putting in light the strengths of their car.

"But I believe from (the next race in) Barcelona onwards we might see a Red Bull more like at the beginning of the year.

"We need to take every opportunity and then when we have our next upgrades hopefully it will help us be in front of them."