Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc says he “would never have imagined” being in the fight for third place in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship after how he started the season, taking heart from his progression across the course of the year.

Leclerc stepped up to a Ferrari seat for his second full season in F1, and currently sits third in the championship with two wins and seven pole positions to his name.

Leclerc has spoken before about his change in approach after scoring just one podium through the opening six races, and explained in Austin how he doubted he would be in his current position given his start to the year.

“I think after the first four, five races, I would never have imagined to find myself in this position at that moment of the year,” Leclerc said.

“I worked a lot, especially on qualifying at the beginning of the season, and then I changed a few things, it went quite a lot better since France onwards.

“I’m very satisfied with the season. I had no expectations in terms of results, but I wanted progression, and on that I’m very happy.”

Leclerc sits 14 points clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the fight for third in the drivers’ standings, with the top two positions locked out by Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

But Lecerc stressed he was not interested in P3 for either an invite to the FIA’s end-of-season gala nor to establish himself as the leader at Ferrari over teammate Sebastian Vettel.

“It’s definitely not for the gala, and it’s neither to take the leadership,” Leclerc said.

“Obviously being third in the Formula 1 world championship would be crazy. Last year I was fighting for the 13th position, and I would never have imagined I could be fighting for a podium in the world championship this year.

“So just for a personal achievement, it would be great, and I would be extremely happy of it. It’s mostly for myself. I would be very happy.”

 

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