French GP: Charles Leclerc takes responsibility for 'unacceptable' Ferrari crash – Sky Sports

French Grand Prix News
Last Updated: 25/07/22 2:03pm
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Charles Leclerc accepted responsibility for making the “unacceptable mistake” that saw him crash out from the lead of the French GP and says his speed is “pointless” if he keeps making errors.
Leclerc saw off extreme early pressure from Max Verstappen to put himself in a strong position to claim a second successive victory, before losing control of his Ferrari on lap 18, leaving the Red Bull to cruise to a win that extended his world championship lead to 63 points.
The incident was the latest in a growing list of occasions when Ferrari have thrown away points this season, with reliability issues having forced the Monegasque to retire from the lead in Barcelona and Baku, while Leclerc also lost points because of a driver error at the Emilia-Romagna GP in April.
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Asked what happened, Leclerc said: “A mistake, a mistake. I’ve been saying I think I’m performing at my highest level in my career but if I keep doing those mistakes then it’s pointless to perform at a very high level.
“I’m losing too many points – seven in 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 from where they are coming from.
“It’s unacceptable, I just need to get on top of those things.”
Leclerc had explained before the race that the track and conditions at the Paul Ricard Circuit did not suit his driving style, but had still found the speed to beat Verstappen to pole in qualifying on Saturday.
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There was plenty of speculation before the race that Red Bull’s superior straight-line speed would give Verstappen the edge on Sunday, but Leclerc had shown brilliant race-craft to fend off his rival in the opening stages.
The fact he had worked so hard to set up a potential victory perhaps explained the loud and anguished scream he was heard letting out on team radio after the crash.
“It’s just trying to push too much and I lost the rear,” Leclerc added. “It’s been a very difficult weekend for me, I’ve struggled a lot with the balance of the car.
“When it’s warm like this it’s very difficult to be consistent, it’s been very difficult to put laps together and I did a mistake at the wrong moment.”
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Former world champion Nico Rosberg was shocked by the incident and claimed Leclerc had been premature in accepting responsibility for the crash.
“I really think it’s premature of him to take the blame,” Rosberg told Sky Sports F1. “He needs to go back now, because it’s really very unusual for that to happen in the way it did, because you’re not even pushing to the maximum there, you’re saving tyres.
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“For the rear to go like that, one thing could be at that point, that’s exactly the point when the wind comes from the rear, and if you get an unlucky gust or something, that can suddenly take 20 per cent of your downforce away right in that moment.
“And also, what was happening with the engine there? It only takes a little bit of a cut or something that can kick out the rear. I really think they need to take some time to look at that because I still can’t believe that it would be a driver mistake.”
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto echoed Leclerc’s message in insisting the incident had been caused by driver error, but urged the 24-year-old to put the incident behind him.
Binotto also explained that mentions of the throttle by Leclerc on team radio after the crash were in reference to the driver being unable to restart the car from the barrier, rather than a technical issue contributing to the incident.
“It’s just a mistake, it happens, in the same way we have had reliability issues,” Binotto said. “I think what I said to Charles, was that we make our lives a bit more difficult, but we will enjoy it more in the future if we turn it round.
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“It was a genuine driver error. (The talk about) the throttle was about when he put it in reverse and tried to move back from the barriers.
“Certainly there is always something to improve and learn in our approach. Step by step I think we progressing and becoming better.”
Despite claiming just 11 points from the weekend, as Carlos Sainz finished fifth after starting from the back row of the grid after taking new engine parts, Binotto was adamant there were positives to take for Ferrari after they fell 82 points back from Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
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“It didn’t go to plan, but I think we had a good performance,” he added. “Tyre management, tyre degradation – again I think we had a bit of edge on the Red Bull, because after 15 laps, Charles was going well and was gaining two-three tenths a lap on Max, and he had to stop very early.
“I think that once again today we have proved that we have a fast car, a very competitive one, and we need to turn the page and look to Hungary. We can do a one-two there, why not? So simple we need to focus on the next result.”
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