Charles Leclerc in Max Verstappen vow at crucial Abi Dhabi Grand Prix

Michelle Foster
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc not happy after Abu Dhabi burnout request rejected.

Lining up ahead of the Mercedes drivers, Charles Leclerc is determined to outscore them in Abu Dhabi as Ferrari look to overhaul the Brackley squad for second in the championship.

Although Leclerc is starting Sunday’s 58-lap Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after qualifying second to Max Verstappen, he’s not looking forward, but rather backward.

Ferrari enter the race trailing Mercedes with runner-up in the championship at stake having slashed Mercedes’ advantage from 56 points to a mere four.

‘The only thing that matters to me…’

But with George Russell lining up fourth and Lewis Hamilton ahead of the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, albeit both outside of the top ten on the grid, the battle is on a knife-edge.

It has Leclerc conceding beating Verstappen is not the goal, it’s that P2 in the championship.

“I don’t know,” he said after qualifying when asked if he could challenge Verstappen. “But I mean the only thing that matters to me is that we challenge the Mercedes and that we take the second place in the Constructors’.

“In the Drivers’, honestly finishing fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh in the Drivers’, I don’t care. But second in the Constructors’ would be nice.

“So we just need to beat the Mercedes, but of course, if there’s an opportunity to beat Max, I’ll take it.

“However, on a track like this, with hot conditions like this, I expect us to struggle a bit more than Las Vegas, than what we’ve seen in Vegas on race pace. So, but let’s see.

“We’ve been good with the tyre management in Vegas in very different conditions. In FP3, I had quite a good feeling during the race simulations, so I hope we can reproduce that.” recommends

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Leclerc may have to fight the Mercedes teammates by himself on Sunday given Sainz’s lowly P16 on the grid.

Undone by rivals in what he felt was a deliberate attempt to slow him in qualifying, the Spaniard failed to progress out of Q1.

Leclerc is hoping he’s able to make a mega start and get involved in the championship fight.

“That’s the target, to beat them in the Constructors’ Championship, so I really hope Carlos can have a great start and then join me in the fight,” he said.

“And let’s try and put both of our cars in front of both Mercedes and come back home with a second place in the Constructors’ that is all that matters to me this weekend.”

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