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Charles Leclerc crash at French F1 Grand Prix: Ferrari leader gives victory to Max Verstappen


Is Leclerc really that good? The Ferrari star himself threw away the victory and generally makes mistakes regularly

Dmitry Zakharchenko

Charles would have maintained realistic F1 title hopes if he had competed at Verstappen’s level.

The French Grand Prix promised to be a tense battle between reigning Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen and Ferrari leader Charles Leclerc. And that’s pretty much how it was until the 18th round – until the leading Monegasque flew into the striker, missing, as it became clear later, a certain victory.

This is not Leclerc’s first mistake this year, and the Monegasque has wrecked cars out of the blue more than once before. And it seems that he is simply not ready to fight Verstappen for the title.

Is the fight for the F1 title over? Leclerc finally buried his chances with Ferrari

Failure at Le Castellet

The most striking thing about Leclerc’s departure at the French Grand Prix is ​​that at this moment the Ferrari driver was not under too much pressure: Verstappen had worn out the rubber by that time, fell behind and went to the pit stop. Yes, Charles needed to attack in order not to give way too much to Max, who had changed into fresh tires, but the race did not reach its equator – and after his stop, Leclerc would almost certainly regain his position, since the Dutchman needed a second pit stop, or the pilot “Red Bull” would wear out the rubber.

This accident ended up costing Charles 25 points (not to mention the fact that the retirement of the Ferrari allowed Verstappen to score an additional seven points), and earlier in the season Leclerc lost seven points due to relegation at Imola – the Monegasque did not feel pressure then either , but was trying to catch up with the dominant Red Bull drivers. That is, only these two mistakes cost the Ferrari leader 32 points – and this is half of the 63 points that he now loses to Verstappen in the standings.

Leclerc should have won the French Grand Prix with confidence

Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Recall that Max himself, when last year he fought for the championship with Lewis Hamilton, performed virtually flawlessly and almost every time he scored the maximum possible number of points, based on the speed of the car. For the entire 2021 season, the Dutchman was neither first nor second only four times – due to collisions with the British, a blockage in Hungary and a busted tire in Baku.

Appearing in Formula 1, Verstappen was sharp and aggressive on the track, strangely assessing risks and, for example, dangerously overtaking the circular Okon in São Paulo. But over time, Max began to pilot much more carefully, the mistakes disappeared, and the Dutchman goes for rudeness only when there is nothing without it. Leclerc in this sense is a few steps behind his counterpart.

Leclerc doesn’t change

Charles made his debut in Formula 1 in 2018 – and already in 2019 he moved from Sauber (then called Alfa Romeo) to Ferrari, after which he almost won the second race in the colors of Scuderia. But then he crashed the car in qualifying in Baku, and in Monaco, where he had to start from the end of the peloton, despite the team’s requests to be patient, he ran into Hulkenberg in Rascasse already on the ninth lap.

In the 2020 season, the problems continued: at the Styrian Grand Prix, Leclerc crashed into Vettel in the third turn, with whom he played for the same team, in Italy he flew out at high speed in the Parabolic, and at the start of the Grand Prix Sakhira made a blockage with the participation of three machines.

Leclerc’s Ferrari after crashing at the 2020 Sahir Grand Prix

Photo: Hamad I Mohammed/Getty Images

In 2021, the situation seemed to improve – there was only one major mistake for the entire season (an accident in qualifying in Monaco, due to which Leclerc could not start the race), but it seems that this was only an appearance. So, for half of the 2022 season, Charles has already made at least two major mistakes.

Monegasque still does not use all its chances one hundred percent – and, of course, against the backdrop of Ferrari breakdowns and mistakes of strategists, a victory at Le Castellet and a podium at Imola would not have made Leclerc the leader of the championship, but the gap would have been radically smaller. Now the initiative is completely in the hands of Red Bull – and not only the Scuderia is to blame for this.

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