F1 news: Charles Leclerc has 'mixed feelings' after inconsistent Ferrari season

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc admits his second-place finish in the F1 Drivers' Championship felt empty because he didn't truly challenge for the title.

Leclerc was the early season leader in 2022, the Monégasque winning in Bahrain and Australia to race out to a 34-point lead in the Drivers' standings, 46 ahead of Max Verstappen.

From there, however, it fell apart, Leclerc managing just one more race win, Austria, while reliability issues and strategy blunders cost him several wins.

He also isn't without blame, hitting the barriers at Imola and then crashing at the French Grand Prix while leading the race.

By the summer break it was clear to everyone that Leclerc was fighting for second in the standings, with it being only a matter of time before Verstappen wrapped up the Drivers' title.

He did just that in Japan, Leclerc and the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez fighting for second place through to the chequered flag. Leclerc secured that by three points ahead of the Mexican driver.

Asked if splitting the Red Bull drivers gave him any satisfaction, he said as per Motorsport.com: "Not too much satisfaction, to be honest.

"Looking back at the season, I think it's been a good season, especially looking at 2020 and 2021 that have been two very difficult years for the team.

"It wasn't a given that we would do such a step forward and finish second in the Drivers' Championship and also second in the Constructors' Championship. So for that I'm happy.

"But then obviously, looking a bit more into the season closely, there's been the middle part of the season that has been very frustrating, where we didn't really put everything together coming to Sunday. And that was that was frustrating.

"So mixed feelings about this season. But second place is quite good. I just hope it is a step forward, and that for next year, we can do another step forward."

Admitting he was frustrated at various stages of the season, Leclerc famously received a finger wag from team boss Mattia Binotto after the British Grand Prix where yet another strategy call from Ferrari's pit wall cost him a potential win.

That was one of a potential six wins lost, the others being Spain and Baku, where he retired while leading due to reliability problems, Monaco where it was strategy, France when he crashed and Hungary where he was put onto the slower hard tyres.

"I think in the heat of the moment and in the heat of the season, races are coming quite quickly," Leclerc said about dealing with frustration. "So I think it's OK.

"It's just at the end of the season, then you look back at the season and you feel it a bit more. But during the season, it wasn't that difficult."

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