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Leclerc: Max’s title this year was just a matter of time

Leclerc: Max’s title this year was just a matter of time

Leclerc: Max’s title this year was just a matter of time
Charles Leclerc congratulated Max Verstappen for winning the 2022 Formula 1 Title at Suzuka, and admitted it was just a matter of time before the Dutchman achieved that feat.

Despite starting the season as the biggest threat for Verstappen’s Title defense campaign, Leclerc and Ferrari could not sustain the momentum and faltered against the double World Champion who has been in imperious form, and finally secured his second Drivers’ Crown at the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix.

Despite his frustration, Leclerc acknowledged his rival’s achievement saying: “A huge congratulations to Max for his second world championship.

“It’s obviously frustrating today, the pace was not there after four laps, but it’s like this,” he added. “We were very fast for four or five laps, but unfortunately the race was a bit longer than that.

“The fronts were just gone after four or five laps and after that it was all about trying to survive until the end of the race.

“From Lap 5 onwards, it was all downhill,” Leclerc reiterated. “[I was] really struggling with tyres; a bit like the last race, we are very strong warming up the tyre, but then after three, four laps, we just destroy them, [so] we struggled this time.”

As Verstappen built up the gap up front, Leclerc started dropping back and was soon in Sergio Perez’s striking range as the Mexican went on to exert extreme pressure on the Monegasque who kept him at bay until the final lap.

Extremely difficult to keep Perez behind

It was then when Leclerc made a mistake, and went through the run-off area before rejoining the track and gaining an advantage, for which he was given a five-second time penalty dropping him to third.

“The end of the race was extremely difficult,” Leclerc said. “Obviously Checo was putting quite a bit of pressure behind and I was really struggling with both of my front tyres.

“So at the end, I ended up making a mistake, but we were really, really struggling today,” he insisted, “I did a mistake and tried to minimise it obviously by trying to go straight.”

Asked for his feeling regarding the penalty, he said: “I don’t have much to say. I wasn’t aware it was the last lap. A five-second penalty was the right decision, to be honest,” the Ferrari ace conceded.

Asked if the plan is now to prepare for another Title challenge in 2023, Leclerc responded: “Exactly, that’s the goal. I think Max’s title this year was just a matter of time, really – we expected him to win the title.

“We will use the last four races to work on our race execution, tyre management and becoming a stronger team all-round so that we can mount an even better challenge next year.

“We’ve already been making steps in the right direction in the past two races and we will keep on pushing this way until the end. ” the 24-year-old concluded in Ferrari’s post race report.