Charles Leclerc fires warning as Max Verstappen on verge of title

Max Verstappen commits future to Red Bull signing £200m deal

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Charles Leclerc has warned Max Verstappen that Ferrari will come back stronger in their quest for F1 silverware next season. Red Bull star Verstappen is on the verge of securing his second consecutive F1 world title this time around after building a 104-point lead over Leclerc with five Grands Prix remaining.

“Whatever the reason, it often didn’t fall our way on Sunday,” Leclerc said ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix as he reflected on the 2022 season. “We have to work on that as a team, to be better and get better results.”

Leclerc began the season in fine form as he won two of the first Grands Prix. The Monegasque’s victories in Bahrain and Australia coincided with two DNFs for Verstappen as the Ferrari man appeared to have taken control of the championship.

But Verstappen soon got his early teething problems in check and went on to leapfrog Leclerc at the top of the Drivers’ Championship. And the Dutchman has gone on to win 11 races, including five in a row between mid-July and mid-September.

Despite their struggles to keep pace with Verstappen and Red Bull, Leclerc insists his Ferrari team have shocked people with their performances throughout the year.

“If I take a few steps back and look at the overall picture, I don’t think many people would have believed beforehand how good we would be this year,” the 24-year-old continued. “That’s really the positive point of this season.

“Everyone is used to it now because we are almost at the end of the season. But if you look back at 2020 and 2021, those have been two years where we had a very difficult time in terms of performance. That said, we have to take an extra step to really fight for the world title.”

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Leclerc has also admitted his team need to focus their efforts on securing points on Sundays next year after struggling to convert their qualifying performances into race victories this term. “We have seen in the last few races that we lost some performance in the race,” the star added.

“In Spa that was noticeable, but we have gained some back. We are still a bit behind Red Bull on Sundays, so we will focus on that focus. In qualifying we have the pace to sometimes take pole, but on race day Red Bull find something again and they have the upper hand.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing to change your approach when things are going a bit worse than you expected. So I’m just going to try and approach it the same way, race-by-race, and hopefully win as many we can.”

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