Charles Leclerc appears to have already put his 2022 disappointment behind him, with the Monegasque ready to “do everything” to claim glory next season.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for the 24-year-old, who started the year on top of the world after claiming two victories from the opening three rounds of the season.
Following the Australian Grand Prix, the Ferrari driver was truly tipped for the title, with Red Bull having appeared to be in a reliability crisis.
This feels like a decade ago, let alone just eight months in the past, with Ferrari having gone on to suffer from pretty much everything possible, whereas Red Bull have reigned supreme.
Driver errors, strategic blunders, reliability woes and grid penalties ultimately ended Leclerc’s title hopes and dreams, with Ferrari’s president’s target looking increasingly unlikely.
Leclerc revealed that Ferrari president John Elkann wants the title to return to Maranello “by 2026”; however, the Scuderia driver isn’t prepared to wait that long and is aiming to do whatever it takes to be “World Champion in 2023”.
“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 version of Motorsport.com.
“I am very impatient, I will prepare and do everything possible to be World Champion in 2023.”
Whilst Leclerc’s current deal expires in two years’ time, like Carlos Sainz’s, it’s difficult to imagine a Ferrari team without the Monegasque in it, given his age and talent.
Despite this, Leclerc isn’t letting himself begin to think about life post-2024, a time he hails as being a “long way off”.
“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.”
Whilst the last couple of rounds have been a struggle for Ferrari, Leclerc will be hoping to fully bounce back at the last two races of the season, with the hope that he can add to his nine pole positions in 2022.
Leclerc has been a Saturday specialist somewhat; however, it’s Sunday when the points are awarded (excluding Sprint weekends).
Converting his qualifying pace into race pace has been a challenge for the talented driver, who actually thinks he’s improved in regard to race management this season.
Perhaps the Ferrari star has, but that ultimately his true improvement hasn’t been seen due to “such a strong Red Bull”.
“I believe that, as in every season, there is always a step forward on my part too,” Leclerc 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.”