Motor racing-Leclerc more focused on 2023 than on battle for second place

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Mexico City Grand Prix - Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico - October 30, 2022 Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in action during the race REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc said on Wednesday he was more focused on next season than battling Red Bull rival Sergio Perez for second place in this year’s Formula One championship.

The Monegasque driver heads into this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, the penultimate race of the campaign, only five points behind the Mexican.

“My mind is mostly focused on next year,” he told reporters at a media event.

“Of course we’ll do everything to try and get the best results possible for the last two races but the most important is to try to build on these last two races in order to be a better team next year.

“But by doing it I hope we can still clinch second place in the drivers’ championship.”

Leclerc has had nine pole positions in 20 races this season but only three wins as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen romped to his second title with four races to spare.

Perez has won two races and the Mexican has said clearly that finishing the season as runner-up to his team mate is the priority.

“We might be constructors’ champions but as a team, and for me personally, it is hugely important to secure a one-two in the drivers’ championship,” he said in a team preview of the weekend’s print race at Interlagos.

“I am going into the final two races of the season still feeling like I have everything to win.”

Ferrari are 40 points clear of Mercedes in the battle for second in the constructors’ championship. Red Bull were crowned champions at the United States Grand Prix.

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