F1: Charles Leclerc takes second in Abu Dhabi and reflects on a tough season

2023 has been the Year of the Red Bull, but Scuderia Ferrari’s Monaco-born Charles Leclerc has fought tooth and nail at every stage, and rounded out the season with a solid P2 to P2 at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit. 

In the words of the Scuderia Ferrari team, the race in Abu Dhabi on 26th November was “not the most exciting race”. 

“Charles [Leclerc] tried to pass Max Verstappen at the start, after which he concentrated on managing his tyres and the gap to those behind, at first the two McLarens and then George Russell in the Mercedes,” said the team in a post-race statement.  

“I had a very good car and the strategy was the right one,” said Leclerc in the aftermath of the race. “My second place was never in danger.” 

P2 to P2 for Charles Leclerc at the last race on the 2023 calendar. Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari Media Centre

The goal was clearly to secure second place for Ferrari in the Constructor Standings, but it wasn’t to be.  

26-year-old Leclerc alluded to the strategy in post-race comments, saying, “In the end, Checo’s (Perez) five second penalty cost us a lot. Towards the end, I tried to help him to build a gap over George (Russell) so that he could wipe out the penalty and finish ahead of the Mercedes, which would have put us ahead of them in the classification.” 

But that didn’t happen, in part due to a difficult race for Leclerc’s team mate, Carlos Sainz, and Scuderia Ferrari ended the 2023 racing season in third position in the Constructor Standings. Leclerc, who celebrated Ferrari’s ninth podium in 2023 at the Abu Dhabi track, ultimately finished in fifth in the Driver Standings following a particularly shaky first half of the race calendar, while Sainz ended the year in seventh. 

“Looking back at the season, we can say it has been positive,” said Leclerc. “We started the year with a car that we could not push to the limit. We knew what the problem was, but it took a while to change things. From Japan onwards, my Ferrari became a very different car, capable of very good results. Unfortunately, over the course of the year, there were several occasions when we were in a strong position, but left points on the table: I’m thinking of my retirement in Bahrain when I was third, or in Brazil, where I qualified on the front row but I never actually started the race. I hope that, over the winter, we will be able to put everything we have learned to good use in order to be competitive right from the start of next season. We want to give something back to our fans for all their continued support.” 


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Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari Media Centre