Charles Leclerc admits Ferrari was simply “just not fast enough” in the 2019 Formula 1 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Leclerc made a quick start from third on the Yas Marina grid and passed Max Verstappen’s Red Bull on the opening lap but Verstappen fought back and returned the favour to reclaim second at mid-distance, before Ferrari switched Leclerc to ‘Plan C’ and pitted him for a second time.

The Monegasque ultimately finished over 43s behind race-winner Lewis Hamilton and narrowly beat the recovering Valtteri Bottas to the final spot on the podium, though he is under investigation for a possible pre-race fuel breach.

“It was tricky, we are just not fast enough,” Leclerc conceded.

“At the end I’m happy to finish with a podium this season. For me it’s been a great season personally.

“It’s the first time I’ve been fighting for podiums in Formula 1, it’s the first time I win my first race, first pole, so there are a lot of positives for me.

“Then when you are looking at the full picture, obviously here and there, we could have done quite a lot better, and on that I am fully focused on 2020 now to make sure these mistakes, that I don’t do them again, and I’m pretty sure it will be a better season.”

Leclerc said he had no explanation as to why Ferrari’s promising early pace dropped off as the race went on.

“We seemed pretty quick all the time at the beginning in the first few laps, but then with the degradation we are struggling more, so we need to understand this a little bit,” he explained.

“I have no answers for now, and it’s difficult to find answers from the beginning of the season for that. So now we’ve got quite a bit of time to analyse all this data, and hopefully we’ll come back stronger in 2020.”

Additional reporting by Julliane Cerasoli. 

 

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