Charles Leclerc admits F1 title chances 'very difficult' after Belgian GP

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Charles Leclerc admits his Formula 1 title chances are "very difficult" after another tough race at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Starting 15th after engine-related grid penalties, the Ferrari driver was hoping to keep pace with championship rival Max Verstappen, who was just one place in front.

However, a forced early pit-stop behind the Safety Car compromised that plan before eventually making his way through the pack. 

“At the start, I was quite hopeful and then we had the tear-off in the brake, so we had to stop and start everything again and then I knew it was going to be a difficult race from that moment onward," he explained.

Also Read:

Leclerc was still on course to finish fifth, but a decision by Ferrari to attempt the fastest lap would backfire spectacularly as Charles was penalised for speeding in the pitlane, costing him a place to Fernando Alonso.

“The pitlane [penalty] is not bad luck, it’s just my fault,” the 24-year-old admitted. “It’s a mistake and that’s it.

“P6 at the end unfortunately with what happened in the end, so it’s like this.

“On the other hand, we were just not quick enough this weekend and this is the big problem more than anything so we need to work on that.”

The call to try the fastest lap was immediately questionable as Leclerc emerged from the pits just ahead of Alonso, only to be overtaken by the Alpine on the Kemmel Straight.

“I think we made the right decision because you need to be brave enough to try to get the maximum,” Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto told Sky Sports.

220058 scuderia ferrari belgian gp 2022 sunday

“There was the gap on Fernando. We knew it was very tight, we knew he could have overtaken him with the new tyres and maybe take the DRS and get the extra speed on the straight.

“In the end, it was the right choice. We didn’t get the fastest lap, and we need to look at why. In terms of Charles, it was the right choice.”

With Verstappen cruising to victory, it means the gap to Leclerc in the championship is now 98 points, with Sergio Perez also moving up to second.

Asked if he still believes he can overturn that deficit, the belief does appear to be waning.

“It starts to look very difficult, especially with the pace they’ve shown this weekend,” Leclerc said.

“It’s going to be very, very difficult but I’ll get my head down and try to focus race by race and do my best.”