Sergio Perez missed out on claiming second in the Drivers' Championship by three points, after Red Bull put him on a two-stop strategy during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
In a direct race against Leclerc, Perez's hopes of finishing ahead were dented by Red Bull's decision to put the Mexican on a two-stop strategy, one more than Leclerc.
After passing Lewis Hamilton, Perez had to close the gap to Leclerc in the final laps of the race. But with the time lost dealing with the Mercedes and back markers, it ultimately meant Perez missed out by 1.3 seconds at the chequered flag.
Team Principal Christian Horner has defended the team's strategy to go for a two-stop, blaming the high degradation of the tyres on Perez's car.
"I think Checo [Perez] just took a bit more out of the front right tyre," Horner explained to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"You could hear him on the radio saying that the front [tyre] was dead and we could see that Ferrari were gearing up for an undercut.
"The problem with where Checo was strategically at that point, it would have been a very, very long one-stop, and there was like a six or seven lap overlap that Leclerc was able to take."
Viewed by others:
Red Bull went with 'attacking strategy' says Horner
Horner says the team elected to take an attacking strategy at the end, to stop Perez from becoming a "dying fly" at the end of the race.
He added: "They [Ferrari] called to pit or to do the opposite of Checo, we banked the stop, but that then exposed him massively at the end of the stint.
"So we were faced with the prospect of either being a dying fly at the end of the stint, or to try and attack.
"We chose to try and attack, and I think with another lap he would have been there.
"It was all about the front right tyre, it was just graining and opening up and at that point was dying and you saw then Charles close in."
Having spent a handful of laps behind Hamilton at the start of the final stint, Horner feels Perez lost crucial time and would have closed in on Leclerc, who was managing his tyres.
"Maybe if he'd managed to make it past Hamilton [quicker], you know, the ifs, buts or maybes.
"There was a couple of back markers that didn't help. But it was so close"
Video: Bottas takes RacingNews365.com on F1 hot lap of Abu Dhabi!
Editorial Director Dieter Rencken joined the Alfa Romeo driver for a hot lap of the track, which has hosted Formula 1 since back in 2009.
Along the way, Bottas reveals the secrets of the venue.