Charles Leclerc currently leads the F1 championship, having secured two race wins this season already. However, looking ahead to the rest of the 2022, it seems unlikely his biggest threats to the F1 crown will come from Mercedes.
It is Red Bull and Ferrari that have emerged as the strongest teams this season, with Leclerc and reigning Champion Max Verstappen sitting first and second in the standings.
In an interview with CNN, Leclerc was asked to assess the chances of Mercedes returning to the fight at the very front of the grid. Whilst the Monegasque did not ignore the tricky start to the season for the Silver Arrows, and their seemingly deep-rooted issues, he is aware of their potential:
“I never write them [Mercedes] off because they are such a strong team and they’ve showed it in the past, but it is also true that they are struggling since the beginning of the season.
“They seem to have quite big issues that will require a bit of time before they fix them.”
Leclerc’s assessment is a reasonable one, with the Championship leader adding that whilst Mercedes are unlikely to fight “for the championship this year… they will be able to win races at some point this season”.
As more time passes without Mercedes finding a clear solution, it seems increasingly likely Mercedes will have to adjust their expectations – if they haven’t already – and concede the fight for the championship, instead focusing on damage limitation.
The 2023 season will not feature any major regulation changes, meaning Mercedes cannot completely scrap this season. However, they have the chance to re-assess their current philosophy, and decide the best approach to take into next season.
Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, will be looking to recover from his mistake and points dropped in Imola, to prevent Max Verstappen from further reducing the Monegasque’s lead in the F1 standings.