Leclerc bemoans lack of Abu Dhabi pace despite holding on to podium finish

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Charles Leclerc was frustrated by Ferrari's lack of pace despite finishing third at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Monegasque breezed past Max Verstappen for P2 on the opening lap, but after pitting early, was overhauled by the Red Bull driver and only just held on to the final podium place from a recovering Valtteri Bottas.

It was a weekend that highlighted the aerodynamic weakness of the Scuderia, a story of the 2019 season, but Leclerc's disappointment was short-lived.

“It was tricky, we are just not fast enough,” the 22-year-old conceded. “At the end, I’m happy to finish with a podium this season. For me, it’s been a great season personally."

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Leclerc's position was under threat after Ferrari were reported to the stewards over a "significant" discrepancy in the fuel load they reported versus what was measured pre-race.

After an investigation, however, the team was fined 50,000 Euros while Charles kept his place and boss Mattia Binotto was quite calm when asked about the topic.

“We do not have many details so I don’t think it is on the technical side it is more on the sporting side, not for following instructions on the sporting code,” he explained via Sky Sports.

“But we do not have details so we are quite relaxed, I have to say because we know about the procedures.

"Let’s wait about what will be the details and try to understand and try to eventually explain if there are any discrepancies.

“The process or what is related is normally on declaring how much fuel you put in the car and sometimes they may weigh the car by emptying the car. So I think they found a difference there.”

Switching back to Leclerc, he reflected on his first season in red during which he has made such a major impression.

“It’s the first time I’ve been fighting for podiums in Formula 1, it’s the first time I win my first race, first pole, so there are a lot of positives for me,' he said.

“Then when you are looking at the full picture, obviously here and there, we could have done quite a lot better, and on that I am fully focused on 2020 now to make sure these mistakes, that I don’t do them again, and I’m pretty sure it will be a better season.”

Much has been made of the occasionally tense partnership with teammate Sebastian Vettel, but Leclerc put most of his success down to the German.

"I'm extremely happy about this year, I've learned a huge amount thanks to Seb," he stated.

"It's been a great year, a realisation of a dream since a child to be in Formula 1 with Ferrari, now it's up to me to work and get better and hopefully give them the success they deserve."

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