Leclerc: Runner-up spot in 2022 Drivers’ standings ‘wasn't a given’

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Charles Leclerc says he ended his 2022 campaign with Ferrari with “mixed feelings” but admitted that his runner-up spot in the championship behind Max Verstappen was “not a given”.

Two early wins in the first three races handed Leclerc a commanding lead in the championship and left pundits with the impression that the Monegasque and Ferrari would be the duo to beat in the title fight.

However, that perception lasted only until mid-June, by which time Red Bull and Max Verstappen had kicked into gear, winning four out of five races, while operational errors and strategy mistakes set back the Scuderia and its leading driver.

A win in Austria rekindled Leclerc’s hopes of keeping his title ambitions alive but they were immediately blighted by a costly unforced error at Paul Ricard where the Ferrari charger spun out of the lead during his first stint.

As Red Bull and Verstappen continued their forward march, Leclerc was left to settle for second best for the remainder of the season, even slumping to third at one point as Sergio Perez temporarily edged ahead.

As he collected his F1 runner-up trophy at Friday’s FIA prize giving Gala and offered his assessment of his season, Leclerc was asked if splitting Red Bull's drivers in the championship brought him satisfaction.

"Not too much satisfaction, to be honest," replied the five-time Grand Prix winner.

"Looking back at the season, I think it's been a good season, especially looking at 2020 and 2021 that have been two very difficult years for the team.

"It wasn't a given that we would do such a step forward and finish second in the drivers' championship and also second in the constructors' championship. So for that I'm happy.

"But then obviously, looking a bit more into the season closely, there's been the middle part of the season that has been very frustrating, where we didn't really put everything together coming to Sunday. And that was that was frustrating

"So mixed feelings about this season. But second place is quite good. I just hope it is a step forward, and that for next year, we can do another step forward."

Leclerc's frustrations during the season were palpable at times, especially at the French Grand Prix when his blunder on lap 17 that deprived him of a potential win was met with a loud scream over the airwaves.

"I think in the heat of the moment and in the heat of the season, races are coming quite quickly," he said, describing the difficulties in keeping coooooo

"So I think it's OK. It's just at the end of the season, then you look back at the season and you feel it a bit more. But during the season, it wasn't that difficult."

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