Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari's Formula 1 season 'cannot get worse' than their anonymous weekend in the Mexican Grand Prix.
Both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had a subdued weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with Ferrari firmly the third-fastest car behind Red Bull and Mercedes.
In the race, Sainz beat his teammate to the flag with a fifth-place finish, with Leclerc finishing behind, but fifth and sixth represented Ferrari's worst two-car finish of the season.
Mercedes second and fourth place results helped them pull to within 40 points of Ferrari in the fight for second place in the Constructors' Championship.
Post-race, a downbeat Leclerc admitted that Ferrari had a lot to consider after their sub-par performance, but believes Mexico was just a "one-off".
Leclerc on Ferrari's poor showing
"Coming into the race, as much as I am an optimist, I knew it was going to be difficult. I didn't expect it to be that difficult though, and to be [that far away] from the guys [ahead]," Leclerc explained to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I hope [Brazil] won't be like this because I don't expect any race worse than this, it is probably one of thew worst races [of the season], together with Spa.
"I honestly believe that it is a one off, but for the future, we need to understand what we can do in those conditions for us to be better.
"In Spa, we had quite a good understanding of why it was so bad, and I felt like we reacted quite well in Monza, even though it is not exactly the same track, but the issues were going to be the same.
"Here, it is another issue. Whether we can fix it for the short-term, I don't know, but again, it is a one-off."
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Ferrari's engine has proved troublesome at times in 2022 with reliability issues, but talk in Mexico was that they were being run in a tuned down condition to survive the altitude of Mexico - which stands at 2,240 metres above sea-level.
However, Leclerc feels this was not the only reason for the poor showing.
"On my side, we had a few problems in qualifying, and I think we could have been closer," he said.
"But in the race, the DRS problem was fixed, and we changed the rear wing, and then with the engine we still had some problems, but it definitely doesn't explain the gap that we are seeing now.
"We need to work on it and try to make it so that when we have our bad days, the damage is not as bad as this one."
Leclerc is now third in the Drivers' standings as his haul of eight points for sixth was not enough to stop Sergio Perez leapfrogging him with 15 points for third in the race.
Perez enjoys a five-point lead in the fight to be runner-up to Max Verstappen - with 60 points still up for grabs in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
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