Charles Leclerc has said he is ‘impatient’ to get started on preparation for 2023, as he intends a stronger championship bid after the disappointment of this season.
With Leclerc’s 2022 title campaign falling apart due to unreliability and bad strategy calls from Ferrari, the Monegasque driver says he’s eager to dust himself off and get stuck into the ’23 season renewed.
Ferrari chairman John Elkann has outlined how he wants to see a Ferrari driver take the title by 2026, when the current engine regulations change, but Leclerc said he’s aiming to bring about championship glory well in advance of that date.
“I know that the President (John Elkann) has said that it is a goal to be achieved by 2026 but, as a driver, I cannot think about this deadline,” Leclerc said in an interview with the Italian subsidiary of Motorsport.com.
“I am very impatient, I will prepare and do everything possible to be World Champion in 2023.”
Leclerc will have two further attempts at the title following this year, before his current contract with Ferrari comes to an end. Asked whether he’s given any thoughts to life beyond ’24, Leclerc said he’s hopeful of being able to remain with the Scuderia.
“I have a contract until the end of the 2024 season, and today I see this deadline as a long way off,” he said.
“I have always loved Ferrari, I want to win a world title with this team, and I want to do it as soon as possible. When the time comes to evaluate the future I’ll think about it, but I love this team.”
Charles Leclerc highlights where he has made performance gains
While Verstappen has romped his way to a record-breaking eight race victories en route to the 2022 title, Leclerc has been the star of qualifying as he has racked up nine pole position laps during the year.
As something of a qualifying specialist, Leclerc believes he has taken a significant step forward on single-lap pace as well as on race management.
“I believe that, as in every season, there is always a step forward on my part too,” he explained.
“I am a better driver [now] than in 2021, just like I think I was [then] compared to 2020. When I realised that I would have the opportunity to battle for poles and victories, I further charged, even unknowingly – it made me pull out the best in me.
“It is a very special exercise in which every detail makes a big difference. The tyres have a very narrow window in which they guarantee maximum grip, and it’s not always easy to hit it because conditions vary.
“It’s an aspect I’ve worked a lot on and which I think has helped me this season. As much as you can prepare, when you hit the track on Saturday afternoon there is always something that has changed compared to the calculations – I am talking about tarmac grip which can be higher than expected, or wind, and, in this scenario, you have to be quick to understand and adapt.
“But, in the end, it is a progression – from 2019 to today, the biggest step I have made is the one related to the management of the race, but it is difficult to bring out this aspect with such a strong Red Bull.”