‘Just feels sluggish’: Charles Leclerc opens up on 2022 car

Charles Leclerc bettered Sergio Perez’s result in Abu Dhabi, meaning he secured second place in the drivers’ championship.

2022 was a real Jekyll and Hyde year for Charles Leclerc, as he began the season as arguably the title favourite following a string of early victories, before consistent errors by Leclerc and Ferrari saw Red Bull run away with both titles.

The start of the new season saw a major change in regulations, with the Formula 1 car being redesigned to allow drivers to follow each other much easier, allowing for much more competitive and entertaining racing.

Ferrari went from being a best of the rest challenger with McLaren in 2021, to a team more than capable to challenging for the title in 2022 as they seemingly got to grips with the new car much faster than the likes of Mercedes, who struggled.

Charles Leclerc managed to hold off a late charge from Sergio Perez to keep second place in the drivers’ championship and has now explained the key differences between the last two years of F1 cars.

READ: George Russell reveals why he’s not ‘celebrating’ beating Lewis Hamilton

“First you notice the high weight,” said the Monegasque.

“The car just feels sluggish. If you lose the rear end, it’s much harder to hold the car. The confidence in the car is not as high as in the previous years I was in Formula 1.

“When the car was lighter, and you could catch it better. Because of the weight, braking is also different. Front tyre lockup is a big deal. We saw that a lot.”

Leclerc has agreed that the best way to counter the front tyre lockups was to brake earlier into corners but has explained that this can be difficult for the current crop of drivers.

Article continues below

“Yes [early braking is the answer], but it’s always difficult to ask that of a Formula 1 driver,” started Leclerc.

READ: Christian Horner mocks Ferrari for axing Mattia Binotto

“We always find it easier to push even harder. Restraint is something else. With these cars, you had to do that.”

Ferrari will be working under new management in 2023, after Mattia Binotto handed in his resignation to the team earlier this month.

Leclerc was reportedly not even on speaking terms with his team principal by the time F1 travelled to Abu Dhabi, so the 25-year-old will be hoping for better fortunes in 2023 under the new regime.