Charles Leclerc says Sergio Perez was too cautious on his brakes at the end of the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix which allowed Ferrari to steal second place in the last sector of the very last lap of the race.
Perez has lost out on second and third in the last two races by an average of just 0.112 seconds, after he was also pipped to the Brazilian GP podium by Fernando Alonso a fortnight before.
The Mexican passed Leclerc twice in the closing stages, but the Ferrari driver said he could his quarry struggling as the laps counted down and made the move with just four corners of the race to go.
“Once I went for it, I was pretty confident it will work out,” Leclerc told the media. “It was basically the only opportunity I had, it’s the only place where you can really go for an overtake.
“And I also had in mind that Checo had done a small mistake four or five laps before so I knew he was being cautious a little bit on braking.
“In the second to last lap I started to recharge the batteries in order to get ready for that last lap and it worked out, it was obviously very, very tight. But I was really happy and I really enjoyed the fight.”
That last-lap lunge combined with Carlos Sainz‘s sixth-place finish and Mercedes‘ struggles on the Las Vegas Strip means Ferrari are just four points away from second place in the constructors’ championship, a battle that will be decided at the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP.
Verstappen praises skinny wing
Max Verstappen took victory in Las Vegas despite dropping to fifth at one stage – he was given a deserved penalty for an illegal Lap 1 overtake of Charles Leclerc and also fell to the Monegasque driver on track.
However, he drove an awesome third stint on hard tyres to pass both Leclerc and Perez for the win, running a lower downforce setup than his Red Bull teammate.
“It was a bit of give and take,” Verstappen added. “I tried it on the simulator and it was very similar in lap time, you just achieve it in a different way. We don’t really have a fantastic low downforce wing, it’s a bit of a compromise.
“It’s not the most efficient way of driving but that’s just for cost saving, we don’t really use that wing that often. I went for it into qualifying, thought it was okay.
“Of course it’s quick on the straight but it was also then a little bit more loose in the corner side so I just try and manage then.”