Charles Leclerc is confident that Ferrari have what it takes to win the World Championship next season and deny Max Verstappen a third consecutive Drivers’ Championship.
2022 started perfectly for Ferrari and Leclerc, as the Monegasque driver won two of the first three races and finished second at the other, which gave him a 46-point lead heading into the fourth round of the season.
That’s when everything suddenly began to capitulate for the 24-year-old, as he lost vital points by spinning out of third place at Imola.
He went on to make further driver errors at Paul Ricard where he crashed out of the race lead, and at Suzuka last weekend, where he cut the final chicane demoting him to third.
Leclerc can’t take all the blame, though, despite being seemingly unable to deal with any sort of pressure.
Ferrari themselves have been absolutely woeful, with the side having clearly prioritised performance over reliability.
The number 16 driver suffered an engine failure whilst leading at Barcelona and Azerbaijan, whilst Carlos Sainz also suffered an engine failure at Austria, most notably.
When their car has been running smoothly, though, they’ve still found a way to make a mess of everything.
Ferrari need to spend their winter taking a note out of Red Bull’s strategic book, as the Maranello-based team have made a number of strategic blunders throughout the season.
The Italians strategy cost Leclerc victory at Monaco, Silverstone, and the Hungaroring, resulting in the Ferrari driver losing out on the points he should’ve scored.
Leclerc could easily have at least 75 more points than he currently has had his three retirements not happened, meaning he could have around 100 more without the strategic errors on top of that.
When you take all of that into consideration, then the Ferrari driver would be hot on Verstappen’s heels, or perhaps just ahead of him.
With that in mind, Leclerc wants his side to “try to execute” Sundays better next season, with the Ferrari man wanting the team to “focus on ourselves”.
“We need to focus on ourselves,” said Leclerc.
“[We must] try to execute well the Sundays because performance is not what we lacked this year.
“If we look from the first race to now, we’ve always been strong and the performance was always good enough to actually fight for wins apart from some offs, but there aren’t many.”
“It’s mostly about trying to put everything together come the Sunday – strategy, tyre management,” added Leclerc.
“That’s what we are focusing on at the moment.
“And this is the step that we’ll have to do next year in order to fight for the championship.”