Charles Leclerc appears certain that Mercedes’ 2022 woes were simply a blip in the system, with the Ferrari star fully expecting to see the Silver Arrows back in the title fight next season.
Red Bull and Ferrari probably couldn’t believe what they were seeing during the vast majority of 2022, as whilst they were battling for podiums and victories, Mercedes were fighting for P5 and P6.
It was a theme that ran for almost the entire season, with the Germans having lost vital development time as a result of needing to fix their porpoising issue.
To their credit, once the issue was resolved they did close rapidly on Ferrari, resulting in a tense battle for second in the Constructors’ Championship.
Whilst it was Ferrari who claimed second, Leclerc is certain that 2023 will see a “three-team fight”, with the 25-year-old fully expecting Mercedes to be back.
“I do believe that Mercedes will be in the fight,” said the Monegasque at the FIA’s recent prize-giving event.
“Another team? I haven’t seen signs yet maybe to believe that another team will join the top three.
“But Mercedes will with a very strong car. We’ve seen how much they’ve improved from the first race to the last race.
“I think they understood what they did wrong, and this is normally the sign that it will go better.
“So hopefully it will be a three-team fight next year.”
Given how far behind they were mid-season, the Germans comeback was impressive; however, Ferrari made their comeback that much easier through their countless strategic errors.
The Italians should never have been threatened for P2, with their package having been considerably better than Mercedes’.
With that in mind, Leclerc revealed that the Maranello-based team have been “working extremely hard” to understand what they did wrong this season, to ensure that they have a “competitive car for 2023”.
“I am confident because we are doing quite a lot of work at the simulator,” Leclerc said.
“We’ve been working extremely hard in the past year to try and understand what were the weaknesses of this car in order to get better for next year’s car.
“I also think that after the 2021 season, where we’ve been working very well and reset it a little bit from 2020 that was a difficult season, we have been working in the right direction and in the right way.
“This gives me the confidence that we’ll have a competitive car for 2023.”