Leclerc: Race wins more important than delaying Verstappen title

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Charles Leclerc admits winning races is more important than trying to delay Max Verstappen being confirmed as a two-time Formula 1 champion.

After a difficult weekend in Singapore, the Dutchman will get a second chance to wrap up the title this Sunday in Japan, where victory and the fastest lap would secure it regardless of where Leclerc and Sergio Perez finish.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has already voiced his wish for Verstappen to win the championship at Suzuka given the team's partnership with Honda since 2019. 

But spoiling the party is of little interest to the Monegasque.

“Not really. Not really,” Leclerc said.

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“It is important for me to win as many races as possible until the end of the season, then, again, realistically, I think it’s a matter of time before Max gets his title.

“So yeah, we’ll just focus on ourselves, try to use these last races in the best way possible, maximise our package. This is important to me. The rest is… I don’t care.”

Singapore saw Verstappen's longest win streak in F1 end at five, but his tally of 11 wins so far in 2022 is just two shy of the record for most victories for a driver in a single season.

And 1978 world champion Mario Andretti believes Verstappen can thank Ferrari for a large part of his success this year.

“[Max] has proven again, how worthy he is of the World Championship,” he said via PlanetF1.

“A lot of it is thanks to Ferrari in so many ways – Ferrari have been so competitive, and they handed to him on a plate.

Leclerc FrenchGP

“He still would be in control, in my opinion, but it was really handed to him. It’s always great to see Ferrari come back and be able to fight but they’ve made so many strategic mistakes on tyres and so forth – it’s unbelievable.

“Both Charles and Carlos [Sainz] are capable of winning and the car has been consistently competitive. They’ve shown they have the pace in qualifying, the race pace, but Max and Red Bull have just been going on their merry way.

“Red Bull has done a phenomenal job, no question, and right now it looks like Max will be World Champion with several races left in the season."