We haven't maximised our potential, admits Leclerc


Be it strategy, reliability or his own errors, Charles Leclerc admits that there hasn't been a single race so far this year "with no emotions"

Heading into the summer break 80 points adrift of Max Verstappen, it is all too easy to forget just a few short months ago, when, after just three races, the Monegasque headed to Imola with a 46 point advantage.

Since then there have been a few problems, not to mention a complete turnaround by Verstappen and his team.

"Whether it was in highs or lows, there was no race with no emotions," the youngster tells the BBC. "It's either win, or leading and then some problems occur or whatever. So it's been a first part of the season with quite a few things happening."

Retirement from the Spanish and Azerbaijan Grands Prix saw the Monegasque lose ground to his rival, while strategic errors and his own overenthusiasm have not helped.

But Austria showed that Ferrari is still capable of winning, as had the previous race at Silverstone.

"First of all, it was amazing to see that we finally got back to fighting for wins," he admits. "On the other hand, we haven't managed to maximise all the potential we had. And this is not great.

"We still have the second part of the season to catch up, I hope, and I will push at the maximum. But the last few races have been a bit difficult."

While the Italian team has closed ranks, refusing to admit to its wrong strategic calls on a number of occasions, Leclerc admits: "Let's say that we know we need to work on that.

"We want to do absolutely everything to get better in every single thing we do," he continues, "and obviously looking at the first part of this season, there have been some strategy problems, there have been some reliability problems and there have been driving mistakes.

"On reliability and strategy, we are working extremely hard to get better," he adds. "And after a mistake, we always go through exactly the same process, which is to try and analyse from where the mistakes come, why did we take the wrong decision at a certain point of the race, in order to go forwards. As soon as we understand a mistake, then we can move on."

The youngster insists he is fully confident in Ferrari sorting itself out, yet many of us have been here before, and are aware that the Scuderia's ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is nothing new.

So why the confidence?

"The way that we work," he replies, "because I know how tough it's been the last few years to get back to where we are. And I know that we arrived to that level because for two years we have been working on those weaknesses of the car.

"We still have weaknesses, and we need to work on them," he admits. "But if we work as well as we did in the last two years on other weaknesses, I am confident we will overcome them."

Referring to his own mistakes at Imola and France, he says: "I'm extremely tough with myself. So it is much more difficult to deal with my own errors than whenever it is the team, even though we are obviously one team and we lose and we win together.

"I'm always harsher whenever it's me who does the mistake, and obviously France was one of those which hurt quite a bit. Imola also a little bit, even though there weren't many points involved because I could go back on track.

"But whenever I go through this tough time, I go through the same process as I was saying before, trying to analyse what was wrong. And it's mostly mentally. You know, what is the mind-set that I had at that particular moment of the race that pushed me to go over the limit and do a mistake?

"To speak about it seems quite easy, but it is not always easy to pinpoint exactly what was going on in your head at that moment. But I think this is a strength of mine and helps me to improve as a driver every time I make a mistake."

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Published: 06/08/2022
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