Charles Leclerc says he was keen to give Sergio Perez DRS to try and pull five seconds clear of George Russell at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to snatch second place in the constructors’ championship for Ferrari.

Perez was given a five-second time penalty for causing a collision with Lando Norris, that meant when he overtook Russell in the closing stages he needed to extend the gap quickly to be classified ahead of the Mercedes and take points away that would have moved Ferrari up a position in the standings. Knowing this, Leclerc tried to help Perez’s cause but in the end Russell was classified 1.1s ahead of the Red Bull to defend the position.

“Of course very disappointed with that third place in the constructors’ as that was my only target since two or three races ago,” Leclerc said. “It was until the very fast lap — I tried to give Checo the DRS for him to try and pull five seconds away from George but that didn’t quite work out.

“Quite a few laps before — as soon as I was aware of the five-second penalty, basically — then I was constantly asking for the gap between George and Checo. They told me that Checo had passed George, so I knew that Checo was behind me and his best chance was obviously to get the DRS from me and try to pull away as much as possible from George.

“There was quite a bit of discussion between my engineer and myself and I let him know as well that this was my plan, but it didn’t work out.”

While Leclerc felt Ferrari was more competitive than he expected during the race, he says his early battles with Max Verstappen were never likely to result in him being able to fight for victory.

“Yeah it was nice. On the other hand I obviously had the constructors’ championship in my mind so I couldn’t take too many risks, but I saw an opportunity,” he said. “I saw that Max was looking in his mirrors — or I was expecting him to look in the mirrors — so I made him think that I was going to the right then I went to the left.

“Then I tried also in Turn 9 but I knew that it was important for me to take care of those tires and even in the first lap, everything is so sensitive here that if you push too much then this can have a huge consequence on the rest of your run.

“So at one point I just decided to settle for the second place. Anyway, if we had got that first place I don’t think we would have kept that for long.”