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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc strongly denies suggestions of a Ferrari 'bluff'

Charles Leclerc has denied that Ferrari's appearance in the Jeddah pit lane approaching the first round of stops was bait to get Sergio Perez out of the way.

Leclerc Verstappen Perez Saudi
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Charles Leclerc has made clear that Ferrari didn't bait Red Bull into pitting Sergio Perez from the lead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

With Perez leading the race from pole position in the first stint, Leclerc was able to closely shadow the Red Bull driver and stay near enough to be an undercut threat.

On Lap 15 of 50, Ferrari appeared in the pit lane as Leclerc was given the message "box to overtake", suggesting the Scuderia were taking their chances on the undercut possibility.

Red Bull responded to Ferrari's move, jumping out into the pits as Perez dived in from the lead – only for Leclerc to drive straight past and continue.

Just seconds later, a Safety Car intervention meant Perez's stop proved hugely time-consuming compared to Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, when they all pitted on Lap 16.

Leclerc: Ferrari weren't trying to lure Red Bull into the pits

Given that Ferrari's tactic appeared to be a masterstroke, the obvious question was whether their appearance in the pits - combined with the radio message to Leclerc - was actually bait to get Perez out of the way.

Leclerc, though, denied such suggestions during the post-race press conference.

"No, no. We were ready to pit," he told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"I mean, yes, we basically went for the opposite to Checo [Perez] in front, and he boxed that lap, so yeah, I think we did the right choice."

The timing of Perez's stop compared to the other leading drivers meant he resumed the race in fourth place, where he eventually finished.

Leclerc had been quite happy with his tyre life

While Leclerc and Ferrari may not have been baiting Red Bull, the Monegasque later revealed that he had been quite happy about his pace on the Mediums as the first stint wore on, while shadowing Perez.

"I think we did a great job by managing those Mediums, because it wasn't easy following Checo," he explained.

"But, towards the end, we actually had quite a good pace on those Mediums."

Leclerc went on to finish second after a late-race battle with Verstappen, while Sainz completed the podium in the other Ferrari.

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F1 2022 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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