Charles Leclerc makes Ferrari demand amid Mercedes fight

Ferrari must overhaul a 20-point deficit to Mercedes in the final two races to secure second in the Constructors' Championship.

Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari must improve on their race pace to defeat Mercedes and claim second in the Constructors’ Championship, a fight which looks set to go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.

Despite Leclerc retiring on the formation lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix last weekend, Ferrari reduced Mercedes’ advantage to just 20 points, ahead of the highly anticipated return of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Had Leclerc not retired last Sunday, then Mercedes’ lead would likely be even slimmer given just how shocking they were at Interlagos.

Leclerc was set to start the Brazilian GP from the front row but span into the barrier outside of Turn 6, after both of his rear wheels locked-up.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

The Monegasque immediately informed Ferrari over the team radio that he suffered a hydraulics issue, although he admitted after the race that he believes his retirement was actually caused by something else.

Whilst Leclerc’s shock retirement came as a huge disappointment to the Maranello-based team, they can at least take some confidence from the fact that the car was good in Brazil.

They’ll be hoping that they can be stronger than Mercedes once again next weekend in Vegas, where it’ll be crucial for them to reduce the Silver Arrows’ advantage as much as possible.

Their one-lap pace is already significantly better than the Germans, with race pace being “what we are missing”.

Article continues below

If they can find this in the final two rounds, then the Italians could defeat Mercedes.

“Race pace is what we are missing the most but I will also say that yes, we are missing 20 points to Mercedes and short-term, this is where we should focus,” Leclerc told media, including RacingNews365.

“Since Zandvoort, we’ve made big steps forward in the understanding of our car, in the concepts that we have and the directions we’ve been taking.

“Until now the first part of the season was mostly down off experiencing what were the best directions to go into for the future.

“We’ve set it a little bit more and understood which is the direction to push.

READ: Felipe Massa completes U-turn amid legal action

“This gives me the confidence that we can close the gap in the future, then how close or when is much more difficult to answer.

“Ferrari wants to be back on top. There are many more points to recover to be the first team, especially against a Red Bull that is extremely strong at the moment.

“That is the medium to long-term target and yeah, so that’s why we are putting all the efforts in order to be back to the level of performance we’ve seen at the beginning of last year, where we were fighting for wins and fighting for the championship.”