Leclerc ‘confident’ of taking title lead back

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc undoing the straps of his helmet. Baku June 2022

Charles Leclerc firmly believes it is just a matter of time before he regains the lead in the Drivers’ Championship off Max Verstappen.

Just seven races into this season and Leclerc has already experienced highs, lows and just about everything in-between.

Racing out to a 34-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship after his Australian Grand Prix win, Ferrari’s tifosi began dreaming of a first World title since Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 success.

But a run of four successive wins from Red Bull have, at very the least, dulled that dream.

Verstappen has pulled out a nine-point advantage over Leclerc as while Red Bull resolved their early-season reliability problems, Ferrari’s form has taken a turn in the other direction.

Leclerc was on course for the win at the Spanish Grand Prix only for an engine issue to put him out of the grand prix, while Monaco was another one that was going his way only for strategy blunders to leave him P4 on the day.

He, however, is adamant it is only a matter of time before he is back in P1 – on grand prix Sundays, and in the championship race.

“Well I hope so,” he said. “Whether it will be this weekend or not, I don’t know, but if we do everything perfect I’m confident that we’ll take it back at one point.”

Setting the pace in Friday’s second practice, Leclerc was two-tenths up on Sergio Perez with championship leader Verstappen a further tenth of the pace.

The Monégasque driver was happy with his start to the Baku weekend.

“We had a good Friday, because overall I think we improved quite a lot from FP1 to FP2, but there is still another step we need to do,” he said.

“I also feel like that in FP2, nobody really put a lap in, neither did we.

“So there are still quite a lot of questions marks but I think the positive to take away is that the tyre degradation was good and the race pace was very strong.”

There was, however, a minor hiccup in his day when he seemed to suffer an engine issue in FP2.

Turns out that was entirely on the driver.

“Actually it was no power unit problem,” he said, “it’s just me that forgot that I had changed something, which obviously made me lose power. Nothing weird.”