Leclerc: Quite difficult for Ferrari to match Mercedes

Charles Leclerc is not optimistic that Ferrari can provide Mercedes with a sterner challenge at this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.

The Silver Arrows have been utterly dominant through the first eight races of the 2019 Formula 1® season, reigning champion Lewis Hamilton picking up six victories while team-mate Valtteri Bottas has claimed the other two.

Their superb form has left Ferrari trailing in their wake, with Mercedes already enjoying a mammoth 140-point advantage in the constructors' standings.

Ferrari included several upgrades last time out in France but Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel could still only manage third and fifth respectively as Hamilton and Bottas secured Mercedes' sixth one-two of the campaign.

And Leclerc, in his debut season with Ferrari, cannot see how his team can begin to bridge the gap to their rivals.

"I think at the moment it's quite difficult - they seem very quick," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"They were extremely quick at [France's Circuit] Paul Ricard, especially in the race-pace so I think we are focusing on ourselves and trying to do the best job possible but to be honest, it's quite difficult to be at their level."

Leclerc finished less than a second behind Bottas in Paris, but felt that narrow margin was partly due to the Finn's tyre trouble.

"Well I think he was struggling quite a bit on the second set of tyres with some blistering, and I think we managed our race quite well, so it shows that still everything is possible," he added.

"But it's very difficult, if they don't run into issues it's struggling for us to challenge them. So we are just trying to do the best with our races every time.

"On my personal side it was good to have a good weekend. We have been struggling a bit more so it was nice but we just need to keep working and doing that.

"We will believe it until the end but of course we are all aware that the gap is quite big and it's going to be very difficult to catch up, but we won't give up until it's mathematically impossible so we will give it everything."

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