Following Ferrari’s very strong start to the season, championship leader Charles Leclerc believes he has plenty more to give in his battle with Max Verstappen.
Having taken pole for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Leclerc fended off the Dutchman in an exhilarating battle for the lead, before winning the race ahead of Carlos Sainz, who secured the team’s first one-two since 2019 after reliability issues for both Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
The Monegasque and his fellow 24-year-old again provided fans with plenty of entertainment as they fought for the win in Saudi Arabia, and Verstappen would ultimately utilise Honda’s remarkable power, as well as tactical brilliance, to beat the Ferrari driver to victory.
Leclerc said “well done to Max” on the radio to his team after the race, symbolic of the abundance of respect that exists between both drivers after years of racing one another, and he is determined to maintain an upwards trajectory in his pursuit of a maiden Formula 1 world title.
“I feel good in general, but there’s definitely more to come,” Leclerc said, as quoted by RacingNews365.com.
“The thing I’m happy about is not really the performance but that I know exactly where I still need to work, and what I need to improve to unlock more performance.”
The now three-time race winner concedes that it is too early to determine whether Ferrari will have what it takes to win a championship this season, but he hails a strong start to 2022 from his team.
“Whether it will be enough or not to win the World Championship, I have no idea. It’s still very early on in the season, but let’s say that it’s a very good start to the season,” he added.
“As I said many times, I think development will be key, and we as drivers need to help the team in the best way possible to keep this competitiveness.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto, who took up his role at the same time as Leclerc joined in 2019, believes that his driver can compete for the title this year.
“I think he is [ready to fight for the championship],” he affirmed.
“But [it’s] something I was expecting when renewing with him in the last year, up to 2024, because we know what he is capable of, and I think that is simply demonstrating that he’s capable of fighting for the championship.
“No doubt, he’s got the talent, he’s got the capacity, he is a very good racer and I am very happy with what he is proving during these two races.”
Ferrari lead the Constructors’ Championship by 40 points from Mercedes, with Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz currently first and second in the Drivers’ Championship, respectively.