Leclerc started only seventh after his crash in qualifying, and in a race not impacted by safety cars, he finished in the same position 52.9 seconds behind winner Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
His Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz fared little better on his run to fifth, having overcome a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane.
Leclerc said it was hard to predict the behaviour of the car not just over a stint but even within a lap.
“I was speaking just now with Carlos and what we are lacking is consistency from the car,” he said when asked by Autosport about his difficult afternoon.
“Not even from corner to corner, just in the same corner I can have a huge oversteery balance and then a huge understeery balance, and our car is so wind-effected.
“This year we have a car that is much more wind sensitive, and we are struggling much more with that. So there is a lot of work going on that.
“Other than that, for some reason this is off because it is not something I have had for the rest of the weekend so we’ll have to check the car, but I had a lot of bottoming especially in high speeds which is something I can’t quite explain, because I didn’t have that yesterday. So this we’ll have a look at in the data.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Ferrari
Leclerc said the car was just as tricky on both the medium and hard tyre compounds: “It was the same. At the end of the hards once the graining cleared up a bit it was a tiny bit better, but we are just lacking pace and consistency.
“I think it has been similar since the beginning of the season as every single race we are going from one compound to the other and we never know what is going to happen on a new compound, so it is always an unknown how the car is going to react, and if the tyres are going to be in the right window.
“And this is just very difficult as a driver to gain the confidence and adapt your driving, because you go from one set to the other and the car is completely in a different window.”
An extra frustration for Ferrari is that a change of approach for the Australian Grand Prix saw very strong race pace from Sainz, but that now appears to have been a one-off.
“Again, I think this is also part of consistency,” said Leclerc. “We sometimes feel we’ve done a step forward and then you arrive in particular conditions and it is warmer than other races and now we are completely off the right window of the tyres. We need to work on…