Leclerc looked set to challenge for the title for the first time in his F1 career after winning two of the opening three races, quickly taking a points lead with victories in Bahrain and Australia.
But Leclerc would take just one more win all season as Max Verstappen and Red Bull took the lead in the fight, helped by a car that was clearly ahead in performance from the break. summer.
That left Leclerc battling for second place at the end of the season, eventually edging Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez to second place honors by three points. The Ferrari driver collected his trophy for runners-up in the F1 championship on Friday at the FIA awards ceremony in Bologna.
When asked if sharing the Red Bull drivers in the final standings gave him much satisfaction, Leclerc replied: “Not too much satisfaction, to be honest.
“Looking at the season, I think it’s been a good season, especially looking at 2020 and 2021 which were two very difficult years for the team.
“It was not certain that we were going to take such a step forward and finish second in the drivers’ championship and also second in the constructors’ championship. So for that I am happy.
“But obviously looking at the season a bit more closely, there was the middle part of the season which was very frustrating, where we didn’t really have everything in place until Sunday. And that was it. which was frustrating
“Such mixed feelings about this season. But second place is pretty good. I just hope it’s a step forward, and for next year we can take another step forward.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Leclerc dropped out of the lead in a race three times, suffering engine failure in Spain and Azerbaijan before losing the lead in France.
Ferrari’s errors in strategy in Britain and Hungary did not help Leclerc’s cause either, as summer racing swung the championship momentum in Verstappen’s favour.
Leclerc’s mistake in France led to one of the most emotional moments of the season when he screamed over the radio in frustration at his mistake, knowing he had a good chance of winning.
“I think in the heat of the moment and in the heat of the season, the races come pretty quickly,” Leclerc said of the challenge of keeping frustration in check.
“So I think it’s OK. It’s just at the end of the season, then you think back to the season and you feel it a bit more. But during the season it wasn’t that difficult.”