Leclerc won’t repeat ‘silly mistake’ as Ferrari expecting reliability issues to bite Verstappen

Charles Leclerc's championship lead has slipped away in the last six races, but this title race is far from over.

Ferrari senior performance engineer Jock Clear affirms that there still a long way to go in the 2022 title fight after Red Bull took control over the last six races.

Charles Leclerc claimed the win in two of the first three rounds of the season as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both suffered reliability issues for Red Bull, but the tide has turned since Australia.

A combination of superior race pace, strategic mastery, and reliability obstacles for the Scuderia now leaves the Milton Keynes-based side 76 points clear in the Constructors’ Standings.

READ: Verstappen message after huge Hamilton crash revealed ahead of British GP

There are now 49 points separating Verstappen – who has won six races this year – and Leclerc, who is yet to take victory since the Australian Grand Prix.

However, there are still 13 rounds remaining in 2022, leaving plenty of time for the wind to change direction again.

“Not wishing bad luck on Max or not wishing to sort of win it by virtue of DNFs and that sort of thing, but reliability will play a part in this championship later on in the year as well, for everyone,” Clear said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“So you know, there’s more dice to roll.”

Asides from his spin in Imola, Leclerc has had a stupendous year, taking pole on six occasions and finishing on the podium seven times, but the car and sometimes the strategic decisions from Ferrari have cost him victories.

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While there always areas for everyone to brush up on, Clear has been mightily impressed by the Monegasque’s performances.

“[I am] Impressed with all of his work,” he added. 

“It’s not just that he’s very good over one lap, his races have been good this year.

“Obviously the Imola mistake was silly and he knows that, but that won’t happen again. 

“That just shows the level he’s pushing and he’s just desperate to keep in touch with Verstappen and Silverstone [the next race] obviously offers another opportunity to put it on pole and win a race.

“And that’s the great thing, he’s going to every race knowing he can put it on pole and therefore knowing he can win, and that’s a huge, huge fillip to anybody’s morale and confidence when you’re sitting in a driving seat.”

READ: ‘I almost stopped’: Bottas reveals Hamilton pushed him towards retirement

The Briton urges Leclerc to keep up the good work and continue to apply pressure on Red Bull and their Dutch champion.

“What we need to do is make sure that we go to every race and we do the best job we can in terms of performance,” stated Clear.

“We make sure we get on the front row and put it on pole and keep the pressure on Max and keep driving as Charles has and as we’ve seen Charles drive all season very, very well.”

Leclerc was surpassed for second in the standings by Perez after both he and team-mate Carlos Sainz suffered reliability failures in Baku.

Perez retired from the Canadian Grand Prix owing to a gearbox problem and Leclerc, who finished fifth after starting 19th with a grid penalty, got back to within three points of the Mexican.

Verstappen, meanwhile, won the race after holding off the stern challenge of Sainz towards the end.