Despite having dropped from two race wins to zero, Charles Leclerc is convinced 2020 was a “much, much better” season for him than 2019.
Leclerc’s second year with Ferrari was shockingly poor from a team perspective as they finished only sixth in the constructors’ World Championship standings, even racing towards the back of the field at circuits where their power deficit was most stark.
The majority of the few highlights were provided by the Monegasque driver, who ended up on the podium twice and also produced some excellent qualifying performances to push his car further up the grid than its pace suggested it should have been.
But there were also mistakes from the 23-year-old, who handed his team-mate Sebastian Vettel third position in the Turkish Grand Prix with a last-lap error and also found himself having to apologise for costly racing incidents.
Nevertheless, Leclerc feels he was generally a more polished driver in 2020 than during his initial year with Ferrari, when he won the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix but also made costly mistakes such as in Azerbaijan qualifying and clashing with Vettel in Brazil.
Asked during an interview with Il Giornale whether, despite inferior results, 2020 had really been a better season for him than 2019, Leclerc replied: “Much, much better than last year because this year I have missed a lot less opportunities than last year.
“It was a very difficult year because the car didn’t have the performance we hoped for, but I was much more consistent and more often I was able to give 100%.
“The aggressiveness that cost me the podium in Turkey and led me to the accident in the second race in Bahrain is also what allowed me during the season to get results and score many points when we really didn’t expect it.”
Leclerc, who will have Carlos Sainz as his team-mate in 2021 when Vettel joins Aston Martin, also reaffirmed that tyre management is the area of his driving where he feels he has made the biggest improvement.
“This was precisely the great step I took,” he explained. “I also learned to be patient. At the beginning of the year I wanted everything immediately because I was trying at all costs to get back the performances of the previous year.”