Leclerc looking forward to Ferrari upgrades as he admits holding off Red Bull will be a challenge

Charles Leclerc leads the Drivers' Standings after a tremendous start to the 2022 season.

Charles Leclerc has every faith that his Ferrari team can continue to develop the car throughout the season and stay ahead of Red Bull.

The Monegasque has claimed victory in two of the opening three rounds of the 2022 season, and leads the Drivers’ Standings by 34 points from George Russell.

Despite a horrible weekend for team-mate Carlos Sainz, the Scuderia lead Mercedes by 39 points in the constructors’ battle.

In previous years, the 24-year-old has had to push very hard in order to try and extract performance from an underwhelming car, but he finds himself in the gratifying situation of being able to drive with more control and composure given the exquisite pace of his Prancing Horse this year.

READ: Charles Leclerc roasts Mercedes in Safety Car joke with George Russell

“I know underneath me I’ve a car that is capable of winning and I don’t really have to overdo things or do something extremely special and spectacular to actually get one or two positions because I know it’s in the car and I just have to do the job,” he said after the Australian Grand Prix.

“So the mindset is a little bit different this year.”

Sebastian Vettel won three of the opening seven races in both 2017 and 2018, establishing him and Ferrari as bona fide title contenders, but they were ultimately out-developed by Mercedes, meaning the German won just two more from there during both of those seasons as Sir Lewis Hamilton ultimately romped to victory.

Leclerc acknowledges that the battle of evolution will be a difficult one up against Red Bull but, having seen his mechanics and engineers spend so many hours working on this year’s car under the new technical regulations, he believes that it is a fight they can win.

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“To keep up with Red Bull in terms of development will be difficult. But the same team that did this car will work on the development for this year’s car, so I am confident,” he explained.

“There is no reason for us to be on the backfoot because we’ve done a great job, or the guys at Maranello have done a great job, building up this car for this year.

“There are some developments coming and I’m confident it will go in the right direction.

“I wouldn’t focus too much on the others. I think we need to focus on ourselves.”

Leclerc beat Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to the victory in Melbourne by over 20 seconds after reigning world champion Max Verstappen was forced to retire for the second time this year due to a mechanical failure.