‘I hope not’: Charles Leclerc jokes about Max Verstappen

Charles Leclerc moved back into second place in the Drivers' Championship after claiming the final podium position at Austin.

Charles Leclerc recovered brilliantly at the United States Grand Prix following a P12 start, as he had to take a 10-place grid penalty.

Leclerc looked fast at the Circuit of the Americas all weekend but was seemingly furious to have missed out on P1 on Saturday to his team-mate.

The Monegasque nevertheless was predicted to storm through to the top five during the race, something he rapidly did.

Astonishingly, Leclerc inherited P4 following a cheap pit-stop for the 24-year-old, after Valtteri Bottas span at Turn 19 and beached his Alfa Romeo, resulting in a Safety Car.

READ: Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton narrowly avoid penalty at 2022 United States Grand Prix

Leclerc went on to overtake Sergio Pérez for third but appeared unable to catch Lewis Hamilton at the time for second; however, he jumped Max Verstappen following the second round of pit-stops due to Red Bull being uncharacteristically slow.

A Leclerc versus Verstappen battle was finally then on show; however, the double World Champion was simply too strong for the Monegasque.

Verstappen ended up getting past both Leclerc and Hamilton, ensuring that he claimed his 13th victory of the year.

It meant that he matched Sebastian Vettel’s and Michael Schumacher’s joint record of 13 wins in a single season, with the Dutchman now having three races remaining in 2022 to make the record his own.

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Verstappen’s domination this season led to Leclerc being asked if the sport is entering a Verstappen era, something that the statistics show is very much taking place.

Leclerc explained that he is “working” to ensure this doesn’t happen, with the number 16 “confident” that 2023 will be stronger for the Maranello-based team.

“I hope not,” joked Leclerc in the post-race press conference.

“I’ll do everything for it to not happen.”

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“We are working as a team for it not to happen. It is very clear to us what we need to improve. We are trying to use the last few races in the best way possible, in order to challenge Max and Red Bull for the championship next year. I am confident we can do that.”

“I am confident because I know how hard we are working. I am confident that we are working in the right direction,” explained the Monegasque.

Leclerc’s result saw him move back ahead of Pérez in the battle for second in the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of the Mexican’s home race this weekend.