The Ferrari F1-75 thrived in qualifying trim, but on a Sunday failed to thrill, explained 2022 runner-up Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc’s once promising title bid, after winning two of the opening three races in 2022, would unravel as the season progressed, errors like his spin in Imola and crashing out while leading the French Grand Prix proving to be particular low points.
But any chance of him undoing the damage was largely snuffed out by poor decision making in the Ferrari strategy department, plus a power unit prone to a reliability wobble.
Increasingly in the second half of the season, it became apparent that while the F1-75 was still mighty over one-lap, Red Bull’s RB18 was the best race car as they cruised to a title double, Max Verstappen 146 points clear of Leclerc in the final standings.
After taking nine pole positions during the season, it is clear that one-lap performance was a strength of the F1-75, but Leclerc said the challenger then became “difficult to understand” over a race distance.
“I think with new tyres, low fuel, it was a really really strong car,” said Leclerc at the FIA’s Prize Giving Gala. “The feeling was really really good.
“We were struggling a little bit more come the Sunday, especially with tyre degradation, struggling to put the car in the right place for it to be nice on tyres, and we’ve paid the price quite often come the Sunday.
“But yeah, very very fast car the Saturday, a bit more difficult to understand the Sunday.”
Leclerc had also alluded to the middle part of the season being a particularly frustrating spell for him, where the team “didn’t really put everything together” in the races as the gap to Verstappen grew increasingly daunting.
During the season Leclerc said these lows did not weigh on the mind too much, it is only during post-season reflection that they start to niggle somewhat.
“I think in the heat of the moment and in the heat of the season races are coming quite quickly, so I think it’s okay,” he said.
“It’s just at the end of the season then you look back at this season and you feel it a bit more, but during the season, it wasn’t that difficult.”
Still, there were plenty of highs for Leclerc in a season where he won three grands prix, and he selected his victory in Austria as the best of the bunch.
“My best one probably is Austria,” he affirmed. “It also felt particularly good after the previous races that didn’t go too much our way, so Austria was a really good one.
“We had very good tyre management, a very good pace from the first lap to the last one. So it felt good.”