Charles Leclerc feels Ferrari will struggle to compete with Mercedes in Monaco this weekend, saying a “solid second would be great” for the team after a difficult day of practice running.

Leclerc finished fourth in FP1 behind both Mercedes drivers and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, but dropped all the way down to 10th place in FP2 after failing to get in a clean qualifying simulation lap.

Teammate Sebastian Vettel finished third, but was a distant seven-tenths of a second behind pace-setter Lewis Hamilton.

Leclerc explained how he felt a drop in performance between the two practice sessions, with Ferrari’s tyre woes appearing to emerge once again.

“The first session was OK. We were still a bit slower than Mercedes, but the feeling was a bit better,” Leclerc said.

“The second session was a bit more difficult to put the car in the right window, including also the tyres. We have just been struggling quite a lot. In my second session I didn’t do any clean laps, so that’s why we were that far back.

“But we are not on the level of Mercedes either, so we need to push hard, and we will see on Saturday.”

Asked if beating Mercedes or only Red Bull was the target for Ferrari, Leclerc said: “I think a solid second would be great as a team, so we need to work for that.

“But we always target the top, so in the short-term, we want to be back with Mercedes.”

Leclerc said he had experienced “quite a bit” of graining on his tyres through practice, echoing Vettel’s recent thoughts about Ferrari’s struggles.

“I think it’s a matter of putting these tyres in the right window, which we clearly don’t do at the moment,” Leclerc said.

“So we need to work on this.”

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