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Charles Leclerc calls out Lando Norris and Helmut Marko for kicking off mind games

Charles Leclerc has accused Helmut Marko and Lando Norris of playing mind games when labelling Ferrari as favourites heading into certain race weekends. The Italian constructor is heavily fancied ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, but the reigning race winner does not want to be burdened with the tag.

Responding to the comments of his rivals ahead of his outing in Montreal, Leclerc said: “They always say that – whether it’s Helmut one weekend or Lando the other – nobody wants to go into a weekend and hear they’re the favourite, so you are never going to hear me say we are 100 per cent the favourites this weekend.

“You’ve got to throw the ball to your closest opponents. I think it might not be the true picture once we hit the track. I think the reality is we are so closely matched between those three teams.

“On track characteristics, Montreal is very difficult to pinpoint a favourite and it will be down to the one that does the better job. As well as that, the rain is going to be here this weekend. We haven’t really driven with these cars yet in the rain. So we’ll see how each car is performing in those conditions.”

The comments Leclerc is referring to come from media day ahead of the Canadian GP. McLaren have closed the gap at the top considerably and were the fastest team in both Miami and Imola, but they were forced to play second fiddle in Monaco. Norris expects this to be the case again on Sunday.

“They are favourites, and with kerb-riding which is a big part around here, it is going to be close,” he explained. “It is impossible for me to say if it is going to be us, Ferrari or Red Bull on top – and that is exciting because none of us really know and it is going to be very close, as it has the last three or four weeks.

“But Ferrari is probably the favourite because of the decent straight-line speed, and I know they complained a bit, but they should try and just put a little bit less rear-wing on. But as an all-round car, I think they probably have one that suits this track the best, but we will find out tomorrow.”

While Marko stopped short of naming Ferrari as the team to beat, he did play down Red Bull’s chances of returning to the top step of the podium. “The fact is, we are not going to Canada as favourites,” he noted, before caveating his comments: “If the rain comes, the Max factor will come back!”


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