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Leclerc plays down title advantage despite promising Raikkonen omen

Charles Leclerc could not hide his excitement after extending his lead in the World Championship to 34 points, but he has been quick to play down his title chances.

Charles Leclerc admitted his pride at seeing his and Ferrari's current position in the World Championship standings, but has been clear not to get carried away by their near-perfect start to the season. The Monegasque currently boasts a 34-point lead over his nearest rival in the race for the sport's biggest prize having finished first, second and first during the season's opening three races, as well as taking the fastest lap point in all three rounds. By winning the Australian Grand Prix from pole position, he became the first Ferrari driver to do so since Kimi Raikkonen during the year the Finn would go on to be crowned World Champion (2007). It comes after Leclerc converted pole position into a race win on the opening weekend of 2022, a feat only previously accomplished by Ferrari drivers who would go on to win the title later that year. "That's great to hear," he told media, including RacingNews365.com , after the Australian GP, when the factoid was pointed out to him. "But we are only at the third race. For now, I don't want to think about the championship, even though I can't lie that it is nice to see where we are in the championship and for what we are fighting for."

Ferrari talent keen to keep mindset unaltered

Leclerc's start to the season behind the wheel of his quick and reliable Ferrari has left him the bookmakers' favourite to clinch the title, but the 24-year-old is anticipating plenty of twists and turns to come. "It feels amazing. I mean, 34 points is crazy," he said. "But, again, I really tried to take it out of my head, I don't want to change my mindset. "I think that the mindset of the team, and myself, at the moment, is exactly where it needs to be, and it needs to say there. "But it's great. I mean, on a track like [Australia] especially, it's a track that I've always struggled with in the past and I managed to put a very strong weekend together."

Leclerc maintains Red Bull are still "close" in title fight

While Ferrari have been close to faultless during the opening rounds, Red Bull have seen reliability problems hold them back. Max Verstappen now finds himself 46 points behind in the race for the title, while Red Bull are 49 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship. But Leclerc has played down the advantage, saying: "I don't think we are presented with the real picture of this championship. "Red Bull is very close. Unfortunately, Max has some problems, but I'm pretty sure that they will come back and they will be there. "We need to focus on ourselves, try to keep improving, [and] to keep the reliability that we have that is helping us a lot since the beginning of the season."

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