Leclerc concedes title hopes are all but over

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Leclerc concedes title hopes are all but over

Formula 1

Leclerc concedes title hopes are all but over


Charles Leclerc says he has stopped counting the points gap to Max Verstappen as the world championship appears to be out of his realistic reach. However, the Ferrari driver says he remains motivated to keep fighting for the constructors’ crown as well as second place in the drivers’ standings.

Verstappen’s dominant victory from 14th on the grid in Belgium opened up a 98-point lead over Leclerc, while Sergio Perez moved five points head of the Ferrari driver into second place in the standings. With eight races remaining this season — and a maximum 216 points when the Sprint in Brazil is taken into account — Leclerc says the pressure isn’t off even if he’s all but conceded the drivers’ championship.

“No, I’m not more relaxed,” Leclerc said. “I don’t know how many points there’s between Max and I… I stopped counting. But it’s a lot of points. So we’ll take it race by race and see what’s possible. If there’s a good surprise at the end of the year, good, but obviously looking at things the way they are now, it’s realistically extremely difficult to make it work.

“But there’s still plenty to fight for — the constructors’ championship, for second place in the championship — so in general, I’ll be pushing until the end.”

At Spa, Red Bull enjoyed its biggest advantage over the rest of the field so far this season. Leclerc believes Ferrari has some ideas as to why it was so far off the lead pace but won’t be able to verify them until after this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

“We spoke about it, and we went through the same process of work we normally do, and we’ll take lessons from it. Obviously, the most important thing is to understand the performance gap to the Red Bull, because this was the biggest problem in Spa. So we have some answers — or at least we have some directions to push in — and we’ll see. We can’t really apply what we’ve learned in Spa here, but for Monza it will be important.

“I think it’s more probably a set of directions more than anything else. But again, we don’t have the full confirmation. We have loads of little things that makes us think that it’s that, but I think we’ll have the confirmation for sure in Monza — if we manage to get back a little bit in performance closer to Red Bull in Monza, then it means that we understood something.”