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IMOLA, ITALY - APRIL 24: 6th placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari looks dejected in parc ferme after spinning out from third position with 10 laps remaining during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on April 24, 2022 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
IMOLA, ITALY - APRIL 24: 6th placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari looks dejected in parc ferme after spinning out from third position with 10 laps remaining during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on April 24, 2022 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Leclerc: Ferrari can’t ignore “super frustrating” midseason collapse

From went from title contenders to title pretenders after a series of reliability and strategy issues

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Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc believes his team cannot ignore the “middle part” of Ferrari’s “super frustrating” season which saw the cherry-red team go from constructors championship favourites to barely clinching second place at the end of the season.

HUNGARORING, MOGYOROD, HUNGARY - 2022/07/31: Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari  looks on before  the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary. (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc ended up in a close battle for second place after being considered title favourite at the beginning of the F1 season. (Photo by Marco Canoniero via Getty Images)

A fantastic start to the 2022 F1 season saw Leclerc race out to a 34-point lead in the Drivers’ standings. After capitalising on Red Bull’s reliability issues, the Monegasque had a healthy 46-point lead over the 2022 World Champion Max Verstappen.

Ferrari were back! Well, so it seemed.

Once Red Bull fixed their reliability issues, the Austrian team were difficult to catch. Paired with the Prancing Horse’s poor strategy calls and unreliable engine, tifosi celebrations were cut short.

After a roller coaster season, that was plagued with individual errors across the Ferrari team, Leclerc admitted that his 2022 season is “difficult to sum it up”.

“I mean, obviously if I take a step back, considering how far we have come from last year, it’s an amazing step forward,” said the Monegasque.

“But obviously I cannot ignore our middle part of the season that has been super frustrating.

“We went from leading the Championship with quite a bit of points to being behind by quite a bit of points.

“That was a frustrating part of the season.”

Sights set on 2023

Leclerc believes that Ferrari “will manage to catch Red Bull back next year”, saying all the team needs to to is iron out their mistakes.

“All in all, we just need to take all the mistakes we’ve done this year and try to improve for next year.

“I think we really did some steps forward in terms of strategy and the way we have been taking decisions recently, in the last few races.

“Unfortunately, it was a bit more difficult to show it because the pace is not as good as at the beginning of the season.

“But I’m confident, in terms of pace, we will manage to catch Red Bull back next year.”

Self improvement

Although Ferrari and Mattia Binotto have received the majority of the blame for Ferrari’s midseason collapse, Leclerc played his part in the disaster-class. For example, when the Monegasque hit a barrier in Imola after pushing too hard to reel in Sergio Perez or when he crashed out of the lead of the race in France due to a driver mistake. The 25-year-old says he needs to work on being “at my 100 per cent” all of the time.

“If anything, I could have pushed less on some occasions like in France, but no, I think in the first few years there was always an area in particular I was focusing on because I knew it was a weak point,” he said.

“I think now, it’s been quite a few years that I’m in Formula 1 and it’s more about getting the details and being at my 100 per cent as often as possible.

“So this is where I will try to focus next year to try and be on my 100 per cent. And then I’m confident.

“Whenever I’m at my 100 per cent, I am really good.”

Ferrari will not only have to worry about Max Verstappen and Red Bull next season but also a resurgent Mercedes team who will be hungry to claim back their crown.

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