Charles Leclerc left Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in a rebellious mood after Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix and insisted he can overhaul Max Verstappen to win this year’s world championship. The 24-year-old Monegasque Ferrari driver is 49 points behind the Red Bull world champion, who took his sixth win of the season on Sunday, but still believes it is not an insurmountable deficit. Leclerc finished fifth after a stormy, if frustrating, race from the back of the grid after being penalized for taking a new power unit. “Reliability is a concern for everyone this season,” said Leclerc. “But if we can solve that, we have the performance to come back and so we will try to get points back from Silverstone.
“Forty-nine points? Two wins and it’s done!”
Verstappen admitted after Sunday’s tense finish that he didn’t have the pace to beat Carlos Sainz, in the second Ferrari, without defending hard for the last 15 laps as the Spaniard did everything he could to find a way to to pass him and claim his first victory .
According to the 24-year-old Dutchman, this proved that this year’s championship can swing with even more twists and turns between Red Bull and Ferrari.
“There is still a long way to go in the championship and the gap is of course quite big, but we have seen and we know it can change quite quickly,” said Verstappen, who struggled in the first three races of the year. before taking the initiative.
In the back of his mind, Verstappen may have recalled having a 32-point lead over seven-time Mercedes champion Lewis Hamilton at a similar point in last year’s title race, as their battle led to the final round of the season. †
“I mean,” he added. “Race three (this year) I was 46 behind, so now we have to keep calm, focus and improve because we are not the fastest.
“Last weekend it looked good in the race. Not so good now. But we managed to win and that’s also a quality and we just have to work together as a team to find small improvements. †
To further complicate the championship, the upcoming British Grand Prix at Silverstone (July 3) will see a resurgent Mercedes challenge with Hamilton facing his and teammate George Russell’s home race.
Hamilton said he was “ecstatic” to be back on the podium in third place on Sunday, when he produced a convincing drive with no post-race grumbles about bouncing or “porpoises” despite his car being roadworthy on Friday.
However, he acknowledged that his car remains extremely erratic and unpredictable, suggesting it remains likely that Silverstone will witness another battle between Ferrari and Red Bull, with the Italian team eager to vent their frustrations.
Sainz admitted he may have made a mistake by not taking a softer tire to attack Verstappen in his pit stop for the final laps, while Leclerc said he was twice stuck behind ‘DRS trains’ of slower cars.
In both cases, they knew they had the speed to overtake but not the space or opportunity – a less likely frustration for them on the sprawling, fast British track.
“Our pace was really good,” said Leclerc. “I got stuck in traffic twice… That’s how it goes sometimes, but I hope the next race will be different – reliability permitting!”
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