The battle for second within the constructors’ championship between Mercedes and Ferrari went all the way down to the wire within the season finale. In a late however finally unsuccessful bid to thwart Mercedes, Leclerc allowed a penalised Sergio Perez to overhaul in a bid to forestall George Russell touchdown a podium.
Leclerc needed Perez, handicapped by 5 seconds for tagging Lando Norris, to go and construct a niche in order that Russell, then working in fourth, could be far sufficient behind to not be promoted to 3rd place.
Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff praised “sportsman” Leclerc for not going any additional by actively slowing to delay Russell. The Austrian mentioned: “We got here to this weekend slightly bit on the backfoot while you noticed Ferrari’s performances in the previous couple of races.
“We have now two guys preventing within the entrance and I believe George’s drive was impeccable, clearly managing the gaps on the finish.
“The battle with Ferrari is a formidable battle between these two nice manufacturers, a staff that we respect rather a lot, and Charles drove like an actual sportsman on the finish.”
Wolff acknowledged that Perez had not factored into Mercedes’ gameplan till late on, including that Leclerc had confirmed his “character” from not resorting to underhand techniques by backing up Russell.
“Perez for fairly a while wasn’t actually on the radar,” continued Wolff. “We solely focused on ourselves and mentioned, ‘Let’s extract the quickest race for George’
Photograph by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, leads George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14
“Then we knew that we’ve to be inside 5 seconds of Perez. However Leclerc was up to now forward that we did not imagine that he may handle these gaps with a view to perhaps hold us behind.
“On the finish, he may have pulled the handbrake on within the final sector, and he did not. I believe that reveals the character of a driver.”
Second-starting Leclerc revealed that he had tried to offer Perez a tow and DRS to initially draw back from the chasing Mercedes W14 earlier than then gifting monitor place to the Purple Bull racer.
Requested by Autosport to elucidate his thought course of, the Ferrari racer revealed: “[I decided] fairly a couple of laps earlier than – as quickly as I used to be conscious in regards to the five-second penalty, mainly.
“Then I used to be asking always the hole between George and Checo. Then they informed me that Checo had handed George, so I knew Checo was behind me and his greatest probability was clearly to get the DRS from me and try to draw back as a lot as attainable from George.
“I knew that there was fairly a bit of debate between my engineer and myself and I let him know as properly that this was my plan. But it surely did not work out.”
Extra reporting by Alex Kalinauckas