Charles Leclerc weighs in on damp squib concerns with late-season sprint events

Michelle Foster
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc putting on his fireproofs in the Ferrari garage.

Charles Leclerc all smiles in the Ferrari garage.

Nearing the end of a season in which Max Verstappen could wrap up the title with a P6 in a sprint race, Charles Leclerc admits that’s not ideal but argues who would’ve predicted the Red Bull driver’s dominance.

Following on from World titles number one and two, 2023 has seen Verstappen dominate the Formula 1 circus with the Dutchman winning 13 of 16 grands prix. That’s included a run of 10 successive wins.

His prowess has set him up for victory in the World Championship with Verstappen needing just three points to secure the crown as he sits 177 points ahead of Sergio Perez in the standings.

Charles Leclerc: Maybe we could have done something different

With only 180 still in play, the Dutchman could wrap up the World title with a P6 in Saturday’s Sprint race in Qatar. But that’s not an ideal situation for Formula 1 with six Sunday grands prix remaining.

“Yes, maybe we could have done something different,” concedes Leclerc, “but it’s also very difficult to predict whenever somebody is going to win the championship.

“And at the beginning of the year, I don’t think many people would have bet that it would be so early.

“So yes, we can be aware that if we have such weekends towards the end of the season, these things can happen, having more exciting things happening on a Saturday, when there’s less people watching, but that’s part of the game.”

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But while the Monégasque driver hopes he and Ferrari can halt Verstappen’s charge, he admits the fight for P2 in the Constructors’ Championship is more Ferrari’s focus.

Although Leclerc is P6 in the Drivers’ standings, 15 points behind his team-mate Carlos Sainz, Ferrari are third in the teams’ tussle with a 20-point deficit to Mercedes.

“I don‘t mind to be honest. I mean we are fighting, I don‘t even know whether it’s fifth or sixth in the Drivers’ championship, and this is not really what matters to me,” he said.

“Of course, my target is to beat everyone until the end of the season, even though Red Bull is a bit in the league of their own, especially Max, but to do the best job possible in the last part of the season, and if we do that, that means we are in front of them in the championship, which is good, but again, it‘s not something that excites me particularly.

“I am a bit looking more forward to the Constructors championship, that should be a bit tighter. The second place is still to fight for, which is a bit more interesting. We will try to beat Mercedes and also McLaren.”

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