have reportedly been plunged into an internal crisis after last weekend's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix saw them remain well adrift of the pace shown by , who recorded a dominant one-two finish to lay down an early marker in the year-long battle for supremacy. and managed to finish comfortably ahead of Ferrari ace Carlos Sainz in fourth, while was forced to retire with an engine failure while pushing for a podium finish.

Ferrari's lacklustre showing in Bahrain has not gone down well back in Maranello, with internal fears said to be growing over the possibility of yet another fruitless campaign after losing out to Red Bull last year despite them producing a car that was more than capable of winning races. It seems as though Leclerc feels particularly aggrieved, with Gazzetta dello Sport claiming that the Monegasque driver wrote to Ferrari chiefs to request a crunch meeting with chief executive John Elkann in the aftermath of last weekend's Grand Prix.

Leclerc is said to be the 'most displeased' of all at Ferrari due to his frustrations at not being able to compete with Verstappen in terms of outright pace, notwithstanding the power unit failure that forced him into an early retirement in Bahrain after 41 laps. The prospect of faltering away for a second year in a row is said to be 'unacceptable' to Leclerc, which suggests that he could finally lose patience with Ferrari if things fail to improve as a matter of urgency over the coming weeks.

The 25-year-old remains under contract with the Prancing Horse until the end of 2024 but has recently been linked with a potential move to Mercedes in the not-too-distant future amid the uncertainty over Lewis Hamilton's long-term future with the German team. However, it is said that Leclerc is only concerned about winning with Ferrari as things stand, although it remains to be seen whether or not this will change if his current employers are unable to bounce back and start competing with Red Bull on a consistent basis.

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There is also said to be great unrest among the rest of the team at Ferrari after the exit of aerodynamics chief David Sanchez, who has reportedly offered his resignation of his own accord in order to join McLaren. A number of Sanchez's fellow Ferrari engineers have also been accused of sharing their resumes with other F1 teams in recent months, with several members of staff believed to be considering their options.

It will be crucial for team principal Frederic Vasseur to stop the rot as quickly as possible in order to avoid the situation from spiralling out of control, although he remains convinced for now that a title fight with Red Bull will soon begin to take shape if Ferrari can keep working hard to hunt down their Austrian rivals.

"I never saw a car that was able to match the pace of another one in quali and not be able to in the race," said Vasseur in Bahrain. "Then it is a matter of set-up and some choices on the car, but this is not a matter of concept at all. I don't think that we have to go in this direction.

"We have to be fully realistic. If we want to improve, we have to have a clear picture of the situation and the reliability is not at the level that we need."

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2023-03-11T13:19:18Z dg43tfdfdgfd