Charles Leclerc is hoping for a stronger car next year, after missing out on P5 in the F1 Drivers’ Championship due to a poor final race of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi.
His Ferrari team-mate, Carlos Sainz, meanwhile celebrated a podium in the UAE capital and thus secured fifth in the standings, outscoring the Monegasque by 5.5 points in his maiden season with the Scuderia.
Leclerc had qualified fifth on the grid, ahead of Lando Norris, and Sainz, who were sixth and seventh, respectively. But, after losing a bunch of positions as a result of taking a gamble and pitting during the first Safety Car, he finished in tenth.
Leclerc reflected on the night in his post-race interview, saying:
“Obviously, with the first Safety Car we tried something different and went for the pit stop. Unfortunately, we lost too many positions that we could never catch back, not enough pace.
“It’s a shame, but congratulations to Carlos for the outstanding job today and for fifth place in the Drivers’ Championship.”
Leclerc is optimistic about the way the team is preparing for the upcoming season, when sweeping regulation changes will be introduced.
Leclerc told the reporter: “Hopefully we’ll have a better car next year to hopefully come back and fight for the title.”
When asked if he was frustrated with the decision after seeing where Sainz finished, Leclerc said: “In the end, it was a team choice to stop on that first Safety Car and it was the bad choice.
“I have to take responsibility for it and live with it. I prefer it to happen in a year like this [rather] than once we’ll be fighting for the title.”
The Ferrari team as a whole are optimistic that their 2022 car will be a large step up from the past few years that saw the historic racing team fall out of title contention.
With one of the most dynamic and exciting driver line-ups on the grid, the Tifosi could have cause to celebrate in the next couple of years.