Charles Leclerc couldn’t hide his delight at securing second in the Drivers’ Championship after what he feels was “perfect execution” from Ferrari at the the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Monegasque headed to Yas Marina level on points with Red Bull‘s Sergio Perez for second in the Drivers’ Championship, and all signs pointed to the Mexican coming out on top after qualifying on the front row.
However Leclerc, who started third, and Ferrari managed to make a one-stop strategy work, as he finished second – just 1.3s ahead of Perez.
Given Red Bull looked the much stronger car on race pace – Max Verstappen‘s straightforward drive to victory being proof of that – Leclerc believes he and Ferrari overachieved on Sunday.
“I’m happy, especially after today,” Leclerc explained to Viaplay. “It’s been a very difficult second part of the season. Red Bull has taken a big step forward on Sundays with their pace and today they were quicker.
“We knew what we had to do. This morning that’s exactly what I said, we needed to push Red Bull to do two stops and we had to focus on ourselves and trying to make the one-stop work and stick to it.
“We nearly changed decision at one point, but we stuck with it in the end and we managed to get that P2 so I think it’s the perfect execution for today’s race. I think we overachieved in a way because I believe that Red Bull was stronger today than us.
“But it’s especially good to perform that well in a race with all the rumours, all the outside pressure…for us to extract all of it, get to work and not do any mistakes on a weekend like this is super important. We’ll keep pushing.”
Leclerc hopeful after ‘very frustrating year’
Although Leclerc was happy with how the final race of the season played out, he couldn’t help but look back at the campaign with some regret.
The Monegasque had a 46-point advantage over Verstappen after winning two of the opening three races, but a poor middle part of the season ended Ferrari‘s hopes of championship glory.
“It’s been a very frustrating year all in all,” said Leclerc. “Obviously we started extremely well, then we had a middle part of the season where nothing seemed to go our way.
“And then the last part of the season where we were still struggling to put everything together. Having said that, I think it is a very good step forward compared to last year, but it is difficult to forget what happened in the middle part of the championship.
“Second in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship is a strong base to build on to hopefully challenge for the championship next year.