Max Verstappen inadvertently sabotaged Charles Leclerc’s Belgian GP when he ripped off a visor tear-off at the start.
The two title rivals both started the race in Spa towards the back of the field after taking grid penalties.
Verstappen made his way through the field with ease, taking just eight laps to get into the top three and leading after 18.
Things didn’t go so smoothly for Leclerc though, with the Ferrari driver having to make his first pit-stop earlier than planned after his brake cooling was blocked by a visor tear-off.
It was a far from optimal strategy for the Monegasque, and the issue hurt him later in the race too, with it damaging a sensor that meant Ferrari couldn’t track their driver’s speed accurately. As a result, he picked up a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit-lane.
To rub salt in the wounds, it turns out that it was Verstappen who was responsible for all of the above problems.
Shortly before Leclerc suffered said blockage, the Red Bull driver was forced to rip a tear-off off of his visor due to the dust kicked up by other drivers.
“It was super-hectic and so much dirt as well,” he said after the race.
“I pulled off my tear-off because I barely could see anything just because of the previous sector, like everyone just going on the grass and the gravel. But we survived without damage.”
And that was the one that ended up getting lodged in Leclerc’s car, Mattia Binotto confirmed.
“The reason we over-sped [in the pit-lane] is because simply it was really borderline,” the Ferrari team principal explained.
“Unluckily we were not using our normal sensors measuring the speed because they had been failed during the overheating of the front-right due to the [tear-off] of Max and our recovery simply strategy maybe was not accurate.”
While Leclerc’s problems hugely benefitted Verstappen, allowing him to extend an already sizeable lead in the championship, the Dutchman expressed regret at potentially being the cause of them.
“Carlos [Sainz] told me it was a tear-off,” he said.
“I didn’t know. I hope it’s not mine, but there was a lot of stuff. Honestly, people were all pulling stuff out.
“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.”