Leclerc claims Red Bull ‘have the upper hand’ ahead of major Ferrari upgrade

Charles Leclerc leads Max Verstappen in the Drivers' Standings, but Red Bull's pace has appeared superior in the last two races.

Charles Leclerc is relishing having the target on his back as he enters the sixth round of the 2022 season 19 points clear of Max Verstappen.

Leclerc has won two of the first three rounds of the year while Max Verstappen has scooped up the other three.

The Dutchman failed to finish in either Bahrain or Australia because of reliability failures on his Red Bull which he described as “unacceptable,” and he might easily have found himself in the lead had it not been for his team’s issues.

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In any case, it is Leclerc and Ferrari that find themselves leading the way, and he insists that he does not feel the pressure of it, but rather is gratified that the Scuderia have given him a car capable of championship contention. 

“Well, I think we have been in only one position since the beginning of the season, which means we are hunted for now,” he said.

“I quite like this position to be honest, because it means that you are doing something right. But it is also true that it’s two races that the gap is slowly closing down. 

“But yeah, I don’t I don’t really mind, to be honest, whichever position I am in, I just want to be the most competitive out there. And at the moment, it seems that Red Bull has the upper hand in the races.”

Sir Lewis Hamilton won three of the last four races of the 2021 season in a Mercedes that, at the end of the year, had a patent advantage over Verstappen’s Red Bull, but the 24-year-old sealed the title in dramatic fashion on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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Despite leading the championship during that time, the Dutchman reveals the lack of comfort he felt at Mercedes’ pace, so enjoys having the faster package even if he is slightly behind in the championship.

“I like the position I’m in at the moment, knowing that the car is quick,” he explained.

“And for example, end of last year, of course, I was the one who was being hunted. And that was actually not a great position because I knew that we didn’t have the pace anymore.

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“I knew it was going to be very tricky to the end. So yeah, just depends a bit of how competitive you are as well.”

Verstappen has won each of the last two races in Imola and Miami after their first batch of upgrades were added to the Red Bull, but Ferrari will introduce their first evolution to the F1-75 at the next race in Spain.