Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen speak out over ‘costly’ incident

Charles Leclerc crashed out of the French Grand Prix whilst leading, following a driver error whilst pressurised by Max Verstappen.

2022 was a mixed year for Charles Leclerc, with his season having been ridiculed by a plethora of errors and reliability troubles.

The Vice-Champion suffered from poor reliability, strategic errors, and driver errors this year, all of which allowed double World Champion Max Verstappen to cruise to a second consecutive Drivers’ Championship.

Leclerc started the season imperiously, by winning two of the opening three races of the campaign, before errors quickly took over his title pursuit.

At the fourth round in Imola, Leclerc span whilst pushing for second place, something he didn’t need to do so early in the season.

READ: Guenther Steiner questions McLaren’s decision to sign Oscar Piastri

It was his monumental error at the French Grand Prix, though, that ultimately ended his hopes of a maiden title, after crashing out of the lead.

At the Circuit Paul Ricard, Leclerc led from Verstappen, with the pair having been considerably faster than the rest of the field.

Verstappen was applying mounting pressure onto the 25-year-old, who ended up crashing out of the race lead, resulting in him shouting and screaming over the team’s radio.

As a result of Leclerc’s “costly” crash, the Dutchman went on to win the race with relative ease.

Article continues below

Looking back on the season, Verstappen admitted that Leclerc’s crash in France was the “moment” when he realised the title was in the bag.

“I think the moment where I thought, ‘now we are going to win it’ was after Paul Ricard, where the lead increased by quite a bit,” Verstappen said.

“We had a quite competitive car, I knew it was going to be quite close in the coming races, but I was like, ‘this is a gap which we cannot give away anymore’.”

READ: Zak Brown admits McLaren could sign Daniel Ricciardo again

Interestingly, Leclerc agrees with Verstappen that is crash in France was a massive one, but that he is bound to “make a mistake” every season.

“The toughest moments for me are always my own mistakes because I’m always very harsh with myself and whenever I make a mistake, I always take it in a worse way compared to when it’s somebody else’s,” Leclerc told The Race.

“Speaking about my mistakes, yes, I made a mistake in France. But speaking about the season like I’ve done this year… honestly, you’re always going to make a mistake in a season. This one was a costly one because I was obviously in the lead but it happens.”