Even Ferrari’s closest rivals and Charles Leclerc regretted Sunday’s accident which spoiled a thrilling one-on-one with championship leader Max Verstappen.
The Monaco-born driver was leading the French GP at Paul Ricard when he lost control of his F1-75 and hit the barriers.
An initial radio call about the throttle raised suspicions Leclerc had in fact suffered a technical problem – but the 24-year-old quickly accepted blame.
“If we end up losing the championship, I will know what the reason will be,” he admitted.
“For the second half of the season, I know I have to be on top if I want to be world champion.”
Leclerc has just days to pull himself together before the final race before F1’s summer break, in Hungary this weekend. When asked how he was going to prepare, he replied: “I’m going to lock myself in my house and only go out when I have to fly to Budapest. I just want to be alone.”
Harsh words towards himself but several personalities came to defend him, starting with the boss of the team, Mattia Binotto.
“Charles is a champion and no one in this team will ever question our confidence in him. We have lost many points in different ways, and we will gain points in other ways. Let’s move on. It just doesn’t make sense to discuss a mistake of a champion like him. We are already thinking about Hungary.”
At Red Bull, Christian Horner also had good words for the Monegasque.
“It’s a real shame that we don’t know how the race would have ended. But I wouldn’t call Leclerc a ‘crash driver’. He and Max put a lot of pressure on themselves, driving cars beyond their abilities, on a wire. So we consider Charles’ bad luck to be our luck, but over the course of the season the pendulum swings first one way and then the other.”
Same good words from Dr. Helmut Marko who had a certain sympathy for the inconsolable Leclerc.
“It’s a shame what happened to Leclerc. It would have been a high level fight in which we probably would have had an advantage. It’s also a shame that before that he already gave up twice because of health problems. engine. It’s a shame that mistakes keep happening in such a great duel. It deprives us of an exceptional championship.”
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz also defended his garage neighbor.
“I make mistakes, Charles made mistakes and Verstappen will make mistakes. We all go to the limit and that’s what happens sometimes.”
Note that Stefano Domenicali, former boss of the Scuderia and current CEO of F1, also had good words for Leclerc.
“It was a difficult day for Charles, but he showed great dignity in his reaction and he reminds us again how amazing these young men are.”