Charles Leclerc laments championship P2 loss to Mercedes, claims ‘there was nothing Ferrari could’ve done better’ at the Abu Dhabi GP

Charles Leclerc was extremely disappointed after his P2 finish could not prevent Mercedes from prevailing in the battle for P2 in the final race at Abu Dhabi.


Charles Leclerc laments championship P2 loss to Mercedes, claims ‘there was nothing Ferrari could’ve done better’ at the Abu Dhabi GP

Carlos Sainz, Fred Vasseur and Charles Leclerc (Via IMAGO)

Ferrari and Mercedes tussled over second place in the championship all year in 2023 after their main rival Red Bull won the championship with a handful of races left. The two F1 giants were almost level on points coming into the Abu Dhabi GP, with Ferrari at 388 points and Mercedes four points ahead with 392, and Mercedes won the battle.

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Charles Leclerc spearheaded the unsuccessful P2 charge for the Scuderia Ferrari, finishing second behind Max Verstappen, while his teammate Carlos Sainz could not finish in the points. Mercedes had George Russell secure second place for the team with a podium finish in the concluding race on the 2023 calendar.

Charles Leclerc expressed his disappointment at the loss to Mercedes a year after winning the same battle for P2 against them last year. The Monegasque driver conceded that the team had done everything they could, in both qualifying and the race strategy.

There was nothing we could have done better, we did everything right - strategy and qualifying. It's all that mattered to me at the end, but we didn't achieve it.

Carlos Sainz’s failure to score points was instrumental in Mercedes’ assertion of second place. The Spaniard only managed 16th in qualifying, and the erroneous race strategy of leaving him out on old tires awaiting a safety car did not work, resulting in Sainz finishing outside the points.

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Charles Leclerc explains concession of position to Sergio Perez for Constructors’ Championship P2 bid

Ferrari and Mercedes had an intense showdown for second place in the Constructors Championship at the Yas Marina circuit in the concluding race of the 2023 season. Mercedes emerged victorious, even through Leclerc’s last-minute strategic decision.

Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc at Las Vegas (via the Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

Leclerc ran second in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with George Russell and Sergio Perez hot on his tail. Perez was given a five-second penalty for an incident with Lando Norris, and George Russell was within that time. Leclerc explained that he let Perez by him on track, to try and help the Mexican fend off Russell to retain third position. This desperate measure did not work eventually, demoting Perez to fourth place and handing P2 to Mercedes.

Because Checo had a five-second penalty we had to help him in a way for him to finish in front of George. I tried to give him the DRS and a slipstream but that unfortunately wasn’t enough.
Charles Leclerc said, from formula1.com

Ferrari does have a silver lining coming with the loss of P2 though, a positive outcome that Mercedes might envy. It’s safe to say that Ferrari will not be hurt by the reduction in prize money from P2 to P3, but they will be enjoying the additional wind tunnel time that comes with it.

After Mercedes’ late change in aerodynamics in Monaco this year by switching away from the zero sidepod concept, they could have utilized more time in the wind tunnel well to progress to the 2024 season. The Brackley-based team will not be complaining about the million-dollar bonus in the Constructors Championship, though.

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