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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc explains late-race tactic to let Perez by

Charles Leclerc undertook a bizarre strategy late on in Abu Dhabi by conceding track position to Sergio Perez in order to help Ferrari's Constructors' Championship fight.

Leclerc Abu Dhabi
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Charles Leclerc has explained the thinking behind his decision to let Sergio Perez by for position in the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Perez picked up a five-second time penalty for colliding with Lando Norris earlier in the race, denting his chances of a podium result.

Leclerc was running in second place ahead of Perez, who was set to drop behind George Russell with the penalty, allowing Mercedes to secure second place in the standings ahead of Ferrari.

Leclerc attempted to give Perez more space to bridge a gap of five seconds - but it wasn't enough as the Red Bull driver dropped to fouth at the chequered flag.

“It was only in the last few minutes because Checo had a five-second time penalty,” Leclerc explained.

“So we had to help him in a way for him to finish in front of George by five seconds. I tried to give him the DRS and the slipstream. But that unfortunately wasn't enough.

“On one hand, I'm really happy because at a weekend like this, honestly, there wasn’t one thing we could have done better as a team. I think it was definitely not a given that we were in the second-fastest car this weekend.

“But we did an incredible job doing everything right, strategy, qualifying. It’s just a shame that we finished third in the Constructors', that’s all that matters to me at the end of the season and we didn't achieve that.

“I would like to thank the team for doing such incredible work and for working so incredibly hard since the first race.

“We knew that it was going to be an uphill season because we lacked performance compared to where we wanted. But the team has done an incredible job pushing until the last race.”

Leclerc conceded Verstappen fight

Perez started the race on the front row of the grid and challenged pole-sitter Max Verstappen on the opening lap.

After failing to move himself in front of the eventual race winner on the opening lap, Leclerc conceded the fight to look after his own race.

“I obviously wanted to try and get that first place,” Leclerc said. “But we also know that in the race, we lack some pace compared to them.

“So even if I would have passed Max there, I probably would have been overtaken again in three or four laps and in the end, my only target was to beat Mercedes.”

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F1 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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