Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur believes Charles Leclerc could’ve done more to help the Italians defeat Mercedes last Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Whilst Leclerc finished second at the Yas Marina Circuit, George Russell finishing P3 and Lewis Hamilton in ninth was enough to secure Mercedes P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.
The Silver Arrows defeated by Ferrari by a minimal three points, although the Maranello-based team weren’t helped by Carlos Sainz having a bad weekend to end 2023.
Sainz was eliminated in Q1 in the final qualifying session of the season and failed to make any real progress.
He ended up retiring from the race in the closing laps once it was understood by the team that he wouldn’t score any points.
Sainz not finishing meant all of Ferrari’s hopes rested on Leclerc, who tried his hardest to secure the Italians second in the standings.
Leclerc even allowed Sergio Perez in the final moments of the race to overtake him for second, as the Mexican had a five-second time penalty.
The Monegasque was hopeful that Russell would fall more than five seconds behind Perez if the Red Bull driver had clean air; however, the Mercedes driver remained close enough to inherit P3 at the end of the race.
Thankfully, Leclerc’s tactics were very sportsmanlike and clean but Vasseur did admit after the race that he wanted the 26-year-old to be a “bit more aggressive” in trying to slow Russell’s pace.
Had Russell finished in fourth instead of third, then Ferrari would’ve beaten Mercedes in the standings.
“Yeah, it was Charles, could have been a bit more aggressive and to try to slow down Russell,” Vasseur told Sky Sports F1.
Leclerc’s P2 wasn’t even enough to secure fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, with Fernando Alonso having secured that.
He was at least able to end 2023 on a high by finishing second, something Vasseur believes is a “positive” to take into next year.
“But on the other end, I think for the team, it’s also important to finish on the positive tone… Charles P2 in the race and to finish like this, I think it’s a first good step for next year,” Vasseur added.