Leclerc: Hamilton still favourite but I can risk more in a shorter F1 season

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Charles Leclerc believes a shorter Formula 1 season offers the chance to take more risks in the pursuit of a first world championship.

Initially, 2020 was set to see a record 22 Grands Prix, following the addition of Vietnam and the Netherlands to the schedule with only the German GP at Hockenheim being dropped.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed all that, however, with the first nine races cancelled or postponed, leaving F1 bosses scrambling to put together a new schedule.

"I think probably around 12 or 13 will be the minimum I would like to race at least for a significant championship," Leclerc said in a media gathering online this week. "[Anything less] that is quite difficult.

"Less than 12 is always better than nothing, so whatever we can go with. But it would be great to try and squeeze 12 races at least this season."

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Fewer races would also make maximising every Grand Prix crucial to becoming champion, which could make races more unpredictable as drivers go all out.

"I’m pretty sure Mercedes and Lewis are still the favourites even if it’s an eight-race championship. So it’s going to be very difficult to beat them," Leclerc conceded.

"But I will probably risk a bit more on track with risky strategies, risky overtakes and maybe it will pay off, maybe it will not."

As for whether Ferrari has the car to fight for the title, Leclerc admits it's still tough to say after a tricky pre-season.

"It’s difficult because we haven’t done still the first quali, so we are still left with the thoughts we had during testing, which were not easy, to be completely honest. So we still need to wait and see," said the Monegasque.

"I don’t think this whole situation will make a big change in the standing that we’ve seen after testing. So, for now, we are not favourites and we know it."