Charles Leclerc accepted the blame after he crashed while leading the French Grand Prix for Ferrari, gifting another triumph to Max Verstappen of Red Bull.
Le Castellet — Charles Leclerc accepted the blame on Sunday after he crashed while leading the French Grand Prix for Ferrari, gifting another triumph to title rival and series leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull.
The Monegasque driver, who led for 18 laps, lost control of his car at the high-speed Le Beausset corner where he spun and slowed before hitting the tyre barriers.
Leclerc was unhurt but distressed at losing another possible victory while leading for the third time this season and, after screaming in anguish, later said it was “unacceptable”.
Verstappen took full advantage during a safety car intervention following the crash to take control and go on to claim his seventh win this season.
He now leads Leclerc in the title race with 233 points to 170.
"If I keep doing mistakes like this then I deserve not to win the championship"
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2022
“A mistake — my mistake,” said Leclerc.
“I think I am performing at the highest level of my career, but if I keep doing these mistakes then it is pointless to perform at a very high level.
“I am losing too many points. I think seven at Imola, 25 here — because honestly we probably were the strongest car on track today — so if we lose the championship by 32 points at the end of the season, I will know where they are coming from.
“It’s unacceptable. I just need to get on top of those things.”
While still in his car, following the crash, Leclerc suggested he had suffered from a ‘sticking’ throttle, but he did not repeat this later and took the blame himself.
He said he intends to study the data of the accident to see if there was any mechanical fault which led to him losing control of the rear end of the car.
“I go through the same process all the time, try to analyse everything and today the snap was a bit of a weird one,” he said.
“So, I’ll look into the data and try to understand if there is anything that I do not know yet, but to me it is a mistake and that’s it.”
Leclerc’s misfortune allowed world champion Verstappen to claim a crushing victory ahead of the two Mercedes of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, enjoying the team’s first double podium this year.
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 each race.
Verstappen was sympathetic to Leclerc, but ruthless in accumulating his points.
“I’m sorry for Charles, but it is easy to make a mistake,” said Verstappen. “It can just happen. I’m sure we will have tough weekends to come, too.
“Of course, it was unlucky for Charles and I hope he’s ok. From there onwards, I just did my race, looked after the tyres because here, with the pit lane being so long, you couldn’t do another stop.”
Verstappen has a 63-point lead over Leclerc ahead of next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the last before the summer break.