2016 F1 world champion Nico Rosberg has suggested that the mistake made by Charles Leclerc at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was unbecoming of a championship contender, affirming that he must not repeat it again this year.
Leclerc was running third behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Imola having seen the Red Bull duo run away from him as the conditions dried up, and he pitted for some fresh rubber in an attempt to set the fastest lap and potentially leapfrog the Mexican.
Verstappen and Perez then seized their opportunity to do the same, bringing the Monegasque slightly closer to the second-placed 32-year-old and, seeing a possible chance to grab second along with the extra point for a purple lap time, Leclerc took too much kerb at the Variante Alta, spinning him around.
It looked as he collided with the barrier that he might be joining team-mate Carlos Sainz in retiring from the race, but no terminal damage was done to his Ferrari, and he was able to continue.
The subsequent pit stop he made to repair the damage he did incur would ultimately send him down to sixth, and it all meant that, throughout the weekend, he lost 19 points to Verstappen as the Dutchman won the race.
Rosberg maintains that, driving under little pressure as Leclerc was, such an error should not have occurred.
“If you’re fighting for a championship against Max Verstappen, you just cannot allow yourself to spin out there when you’re just driving on your own,” he said during Sky Sports’ post-race coverage.
“I mean, yes, he was hunting down Perez, but the pressure was on Perez, not on Charles, so to spin like that, my goodness, he has to avoid that for the rest of the season if he wants to win the championship.”
Leclerc emphasised after the race that P3 was the best the car could manage on the day, but took full responsibility for the error caused by him pushing excessively.
“I believe that the spin shouldn’t have happened today, I mean P3 was the best I could do,” he said.
“We didn’t have the pace for much more and I was too greedy and I paid the price for it and lost seven potential points compared to my third place I was before so it is a shame.
“It’s seven points that are valuable at the end of the championship for sure and this shouldn’t happen again.”
Leclerc’s lead over Verstappen in the Drivers’ Standings sits at 27 points, while the Scuderia are 11 points clear of Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.