Helmut Marko hits out at Charles Leclerc as he makes Lewis Hamilton claim

A number of errors by both Charles Leclerc and Ferrari saw the Monegasque's title hopes end rapidly.

Charles Leclerc will look back on 2022 as a massively missed opportunity, with the Ferrari driver having staggeringly lost 143 points this season, which would’ve seen him leading the championship with two races remaining.

In fairness to the 24-year-old, Ferrari’s incompetence and philosophy for the F1-75 hasn’t helped his title bid this season, which was essentially over after crashing out of the French Grand Prix.

Three mistakes can be pinpointed as Leclerc’s fault this year, with the Monegasque having spun out of third at Imola, crashed out of the lead at Paul Ricard, and having cut the final corner at Japan.

It was his error in Japan that actually awarded Max Verstappen the title at Suzuka, with Leclerc having been awarded a time penalty which saw him drop from second to third after cutting the final chicane on the final lap.

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Had none of the mentioned errors been made by Ferrari’s star, then he’d currently be 35 points better off; however, the other 108 points lost in 2022 are solely the responsibility of Ferrari.

It became apparent early in the year that the Italians had opted for performance over reliability when designing their power unit for this season, with the car having been blisteringly quick, but incredibly unreliable.

Leclerc was forced to retire from both the Spanish and Azerbaijan races whilst leading, after suffering a power unit failure, costing him 50 points at least (potentially 52 if he went on to claim fastest lap at both).

The other points lost were through Ferrari’s often embarrassing strategic errors, which robbed Leclerc of victory in Monaco, Silverstone, and the Hungaroring.

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It’s made for an easy cruise to the title for Verstappen, whose claimed a record-breaking 14 victories this season, a feat that might never be matched.

With that in mind, Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has tipped Lewis Hamilton to be Verstappen’s “challenger” in 2023, with Leclerc “making mistakes” too often.

“Leclerc was very strong in qualifying,” Marko told NTV.

“But he was prone to making mistakes.

“I see (Lewis) Hamilton as a stronger challenger for 2023. He has a clear advantage in terms of experience, he can motivate himself incredibly well and I’m also convinced that Mercedes will put a better car on the track next year.”

Marko went on to discuss how “confidently” Verstappen has been driving this season, hailing the Dutchman has being “half a second faster” than the field.

“He drives more confidently than ever with more overview of the race overall. At the same time he has developed into a tyre whisperer,” Marko added on Verstappen.

“He drives on a soft tyre for longer than his competitors on a harder compound. I haven’t seen his limit yet.

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“He gets in the car and is so confident from the first practice session – from the first lap. When it’s wet, he’s two seconds faster than the rest of the field on the first laps.

“All he needs is a very good grip at the front – what the rear is doing doesn’t affect him that much. That only makes the other drivers nervous.

“You saw in the early stages this season that Max was as fast as (Sergio) Perez in a car that didn’t suit his driving style. Once the car fit, he was half a second faster.”