July ‘a decisive month’ for ’22 title – Leclerc

Jul.1 (GMM) Charles Leclerc admits July will be a “decisive month” for his world championship chances.

Off the back of recent reliability dramas and the new dominance of reigning world champion Max Verstappen, the Ferrari driver is now almost 50 points behind the leading Red Bull.

“July is a decisive month,” Leclerc told Sky Italia at Silverstone. “But first let’s think about the race here.

“We need the perfect weekend.”

After Silverstone, a circuit expected to suit the Maranello based team’s car, Formula 1 will head to three other circuits within the month of July – in Austria, France and Hungary.

“We’ll see how it goes here, but the car is there,” Leclerc said. “We hope to have a clean weekend.

“The next four races will be important, but we need to focus on ourselves and the rest will come by itself.”

The 24-year-old defended Ferrari’s recent reliability troubles, with many pundits suspecting the team pushed too hard with performance at the expense of car frailty.

“Pushing to the limit is what we need to do if we want to win this championship,” said Leclerc.

“In the last four or five races it has became much more difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And I still believe in it as much as I did five races ago.”

Championship leader Verstappen admits that he arrives at Silverstone with the drivers’ standings “looking good”.

“We’re a lot of points up here, but that was also the case last year,” he told RTL.

“A lot happened in the first nine races again this year – there were many retirements,” Verstappen added. “First I was a long way behind, now I have a big lead.”

He also admitted Red Bull got “a bit lucky” with Leclerc’s recent problems.

“They’re still really fast, and in Canada it was a battle right up to the last lap. That will certainly be the case here at Silverstone and the next races.”

Dr Helmut Marko is also only cautiously optimistic.

“Last year we had a good cushion before Silverstone and after Budapest it was all gone. It can happen quickly,” he told Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

“But we were capable of winning everywhere this year apart from Barcelona, and that makes us optimistic.”

Verstappen said he feels more prepared than ever for the 2022 fight.

“It’s better for the team if everyone works calmly. I’ve learned a lot in the last seven or eight years,” said the winner of 26 grands prix.

“When the car works and you’re always in the top four, everything is much easier. Unlike before, now we don’t always have to go full risk but can just focus on collecting a lot of points.”

Verstappen also revealed that Red Bull has brought “new parts” to Silverstone “to have better qualifying pace”.

Marko continued: “With a duel so close, it is nuances that will decide which way the pendulum swings.

“They (Ferrari) could be the big winner here as the track will suit them. That also brings back unpleasant memories for us of last year, when Hamilton catapulted Max off the slopes.

“It’s still very much in our heads,” said the Red Bull official.

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