Charles Leclerc missed out on winning the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix by just 0.549sec in a thrilling late-race duel with Max Verstappen – and despite his disappointment, the Ferrari driver clearly enjoyed his match with the champion.
Leclerc took the lead after pitting under the first safety car, after linebacker Sergio Perez made the decision to pit earlier in green flag conditions. With that advantage, the Bahrain Grand Prix winner looked like he was sailing a winning path over Verstappen behind him – but the Red Bull driver came close to the race after a late virtual safety car and overtook Leclerc for the lead after an incredible duel in a late race.
“It wasn’t enough today, but my gosh, I really enjoyed the race,” said Leclerc. “Again, the race was tough but fair. Every race should be like this. It was fun. I am of course frustrated – I wanted to win today. It was very tough. I tried to get the DRS in the last corner. The last time.
“We were fast in the turns but very slow in the straight because we put in more downforce, so it was very difficult to cover Max in the straight. But it is – he did a great job and it was a fun race.”
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix 2022: Leclerc and Verstappen battle for the lead in the closing laps
A late yellow flag, stemming from an accident between Alex Albon – who has been penalized three netted places for the Australian Grand Prix – and Lance Stroll, undermined Leclerc’s effort to pass Verstappen at the end of the race, as the Monaco driver continued to explain. .
“Obviously there was this yellow flag… where I could have been side by side… in the first turn, as I didn’t have a DRS there – so that was a bit of a shame but it’s part of the game and yes, we’ll try once,” he said. Another next race.”
On whether there was mutual respect between him and the Dutchman, given the No-Limit duel in Jeddah, Leclerc added: “Yes, he’s always been there. Especially when you finish a race like this. We’re on a street track, we’ve been pushing … and risking in The end – so of course there is respect, but we are a little disappointed.”
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