Second was all that mattered to Leclerc


Despite his best efforts in assisting Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc is left disappointed that he was unable to secure the runner-up spot for Ferrari.

Thwarted yet again in the opening corner of the race - despite a valiant come back shortly after - Charles Leclerc was resigned to spending the remainder of the afternoon in second.

Under normal circumstances the Monegasque would have been content, but with his teammate having started from 16th after failing to make it out of Q2, responsibility for overhauling Mercedes to claim runner-up spot in the team standings rested squarely on Leclerc's shoulders.

Struggling to make his way up the order, Ferrari, which had initially opted to go for a one stop strategy with Sainz was forced to switch to a two stopper, essentially ruling him out of the equation in the battle for points, though the Maranello outfit was hoping for a late Safety Car.

Consequently, as the race developed and the positions of the Mercedes drivers changed, Leclerc asked to be kept informed of how the championship standings stood at various points.

In the closing stages, still running second, Leclerc was ahead of Sergio Perez and George Russell, however, the 5s time penalty awarded to the Mexican for colliding with Oscar Piastri meant that Mercedes had the advantage.

Consequently, Leclerc told his team that he would assist his rival and allow him to pass and hopefully make up the 5s deficit to Russell, thereby giving the standings advantage back to Ferrari.

Though the Mexican did indeed pass the Ferrari he was unable to make up the deficit and consequently dropped to fifth.

"It was all in the last few minutes because Checo had a five-second penalty," explained Leclerc. "We had to help him in a way for him to finish in front of George with the five seconds. I tried to give him the DRS and a slipstream, but that unfortunately wasn't enough.

"It is just a shame that we finished third in the constructors'," he added. "That's all that mattered to me in this end of season, and we didn't achieve that."

Asked about the start, he said: "I obviously wanted to try and get that first place, but we also know that in the race, we lacked some pace compared to them. So, even if I would have passed Max there, I probably would have got overtaken again three or four laps.

"At the end, my only target was to beat the Mercedes," he continued, "so I didn't want to lose too much tyre juice and also time with Max. But it was fun."

It wasn't fun for teammate Sainz however, who retired from the race with an engine issue shortly after making his second stop.

"Today, the last two weekends, this last weekend in general, haven't gone like I expected or like we wanted to finish the year," said the Spaniard. "Honestly, very disappointed and obviously not happy.

"Given how close it was in the end with the championship, we will have to sit down and analyse what we could have done better today and what was going on because clearly the pace this weekend and the overall feeling with the car and everything, the end wasn't good."

His disappointment was shared by team boss, Frederic Vasseur, who admits that it shouldn't have rested on the final race of the season.

"We started on the wrong foot with Bahrain, that when we had to stop when we were P3, and we get the penalty for the second race," said the Frenchman. "It meant that, for Charles, it was almost 25 points of penalty after two events, plus the points that we are giving to the others, the two Mercedes were behind us.

"But it's not only this one. You can do the list, trust me, I did the list a couple of times. I have in my head a classification without the issues. Overall, you have ups and downs during the season but for sure we gave up more points than our competitors, even our direct competitors. It's another topic that we have to work on for next year, to be more opportunistic and more efficient."

Meanwhile, Russell paid tribute to the fact that Leclerc didn't play dirty and try to slow him down in the final laps.

"It was tight with Checo at the end, I thought Charles was going to back me up but respect to him for keeping it clean," said the Briton.

"Second means a huge amount," he added. "There are so many people back at a factory, Brackley, Brixworth who have worked so hard to achieve this.

"It's been a really challenging season. I've let the side down a couple of times this year, so pleased to bring it across the line today."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Yas Marina here.

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 28/11/2023
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