Charles Leclerc took the blame on Sunday after he crashed while leading the French Grand Prix for Ferrari, bestowing another win on Red Bull’s title rival and series leader Max Verstappen. The Monegasque driver, who had led for 18 laps, lost control of his car in the fast corner at Le Beausset, where he spun and braked before hitting the tire barriers. Leclerc was unharmed but was saddened by losing another possible win while in the lead for the third time this season and, after screaming in fear, later said it was “unacceptable”.
Verstappen took full advantage during a safety car intervention after the crash to take control and claim his seventh win this season.
He now leads Leclerc in the title race with 233 points to 170.
“A mistake – my mistake,” said Leclerc.
“I think I’m performing at the highest level of my career, but if I keep making these mistakes, there’s no point in performing at a very high level.
“I’m losing too many points. I think seven on Imola, 25 here – because honestly we were probably the strongest car on the track today – so if we lose the championship by 32 points at the end of the season I will knowing where they come from.
“It’s unacceptable. I just have to get over it.”
While still in his car after the crash, Leclerc suggested that he had suffered from a ‘permanent’ throttle, but he later did not repeat this and took the blame himself.
He said he plans to study the details of the accident to see if there was a mechanical failure that caused him to lose control of the rear of the car.
“I go through the same process all the time, trying to analyze everything and today the snap was a little weird,” he said.
“So I’ll examine the data and try to understand if there’s anything I don’t know yet, but for me it’s a mistake and that’s it.”
Leclerc’s accident allowed world champion Verstappen to take a crushing win for the two Mercedes cars of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, and this year enjoying the team’s first double podium.
Mercedes extended their record as the only team to score points in every race this year, while Hamilton continued as the only driver to finish every race.
Verstappen had sympathy for Leclerc, but ruthless in collecting his points.
“I’m sorry for Charles, but it’s easy to make a mistake,” said Verstappen. “It could just happen. I’m sure we’ll have some tough weekends as well.
“Of course it was bad luck for Charles and I hope he’s okay. From then on I just ran my race, maintained the tires, because here, with the pit lane so long, you couldn’t make another stop.”
Verstappen has a 63-point lead over Leclerc ahead of next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the last before the summer break.
(This story was not edited by The AU Times staff and was generated automatically Platforms.)
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