Charles Leclerc has predicted that, if Ferrari can remain consistent throughout the year, he could become World Champion with five race victories this season.
The pecking order in the field is yet to be established after the first three days of running in Barcelona last week, but it is widely regarded that Ferrari appeared competitive – as well as productive – having completed more laps than any other team in that time.
Last season was a year of recovery for the Scuderia, taking third place in the Constructors’ standings after a torrid time in 2020 that saw them record their worst season for 40 years.
The two-time grand prix winner hinted that the season could be more open than the two-team battle between Mercedes and Red Bull last year, and even as few as five race wins in 23 rounds could be enough to succeed.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) March 5, 2022
“The last two years have been complicated,” Leclerc said while speaking on French TV show, Canal Sports Club.
“Ferrari is always under great pressure. But we react well as a team and we have also prepared well for the new rules.
“Achieving five wins would already be great. If we are consistent, we can become World Champions with five wins.”
Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz have been at pains to play down the rising expectations surrounding Ferrari this year, and said simply that they will be taking things one step at a time – starting in the official pre-season test in Bahrain on Thursday.
“Those test days in Bahrain will be very important as we prepare for the first race. We remain cautious because we don’t know where we stand, but we are very motivated and we want to fight at the front.”
Leclerc was beaten by a team-mate over the course of a season for the first time in his Formula 1 career when Sainz jumped past his points total at the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi, with only 5.5 points separating the two at the end of the year.
While the two have struck up a strong working relationship on and off track, Leclerc insists that he still wants to come out on top in this season’s battle between the pair.
“We get on very well together,” he said. “We are competitors. In the end your team-mate is the only one who has the same car and I want to beat him, but of course we have to find a good balance for the team.”
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