Charles Leclerc confirms Max Verstappen ‘Red Shell’ ruined his Belgian GP

Max Verstappen won the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday as Charles Leclerc was forced to settle for sixth.

We have heard of red flags in Formula 1 – they are quite common these days – but rarely have red shells been mentioned in the pinnace of motorsport.

This is what Charles Leclerc was a victim of at the Belgian Grand Prix when Max Verstappen threw one back at him on the opening lap of the race.

Verstappen and Leclerc started the race 14th and 15th, respectively, having taken grid penalties before the weekend, so they were charged with making their way back through the field.

On lap one, Sir Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso made contact at Les Combes, giving the seven-time champion terminal damage, and he was forced to stop the car later on in the lap at Blanchimont.

READ: Max Verstappen says his ‘worst nightmare’ came true at 2022 Belgian GP

Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll had also got close at the chicane, sending the Canadian into the gravel as he kicked up some dust.

There were drivers off the racing line left, right and centre causing lots of dust to be thrown around the racetrack as Verstappen and Leclerc made their way through.

Such was the dirt in the air that Verstappen had to remove a strip of his visor before he had even reached the end of the first tour, and the piece of plastic happened to go straight into the brake duct of Leclerc right behind him.

The Monegasque was forced to pit as a result, and he went onto Mediums before later pitting for another set of the yellow-walled tyre.

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He then pitted to try and get the fastest lap at the end, but his sensor had burned out due to the overheating brake duct caused by Verstappen’s tear-off, affecting his pit limiter, and causing him to speed into the pit lane by just 1kph.

Leclerc was given a five-second penalty as a result, putting him behind Fernando Alonso and into sixth place – he also failed to get the fastest lap of the race.

Verstappen, meanwhile, went on to take the win by a comfortable margin from team-mate Sergio Perez as Red Bull collected their fourth one-two of the season, while the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz finished third.

Verstappen explained after the race that Sainz had indicated to him that the tear-off which ruined Leclerc’s afternoon may well have come from the Dutchman’s visor.

“Carlos told me it was a tear-off, I didn’t know,” he said in the press conference.

“I hope it’s not mine! It’s just super-unlucky, to be honest, that that happens. 

“You’re always scared that it happens, especially when you are in the pack, especially on a track like this, you are taking them off very quickly.

“That is your worst nightmare that these things happen, but unfortunately they do happen.”

Leclerc would later confirm that the visor strip that cost him a chance of a podium did indeed belong to Verstappen.

“We had a tear-off from Max I think,” he said in Ferrari’s debrief video.

“It was Max’s?” asked Sainz.

READ: Charles Leclerc voices concern as Ferrari hit hard by regulation change

“Yeah, it was Max unfortunately,” said the Monegasque.

Verstappen now leads second-placed Perez by 93 points in the Drivers’ Standings, with Leclerc a further five back.

Red Bull hold a 118-point lead over Ferrari in the teams’ battle.