Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2019

Leclerc accepts blame for ‘ruining Verstappen’s race’

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc has accepted blame for his first-lap collision with Max Verstappen in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver skidded into the Red Bull on the outside of turn two. He initially described the incident as “just a tricky situation”, but took responsibility for it later in a post on social media.

“My mistake in turn one,” said Leclerc. “It ruined Max’s race and put [ourselves] in a bad position for the remaining of the race.”

Verstappen said there was little he could have done to avoid the collision.

“I stayed on the outside at turn two but Charles drove into the side of my car,” he said. “I guess Charles was trying to recover places after the start but it’s a long race so there was no need to risk so much so early.

“We both lost out but he managed to carry on once he replaced his front wing. I re-joined at the back of the field but my car was severely damaged and we had to retire on Lap 15. From my side I don’t think I could have done anything different.”

Leclerc was given a five-second time penalty for the collision. That alone would not have changed his finishing position, but he also received a 10-second time penalty for failing to pit with a damaged car.

Some of the debris from Leclerc’s car hit Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, breaking its right-hand mirror. Lando Norris also picked up debris from the collision in his brake ducts. This caused overheating and forced him to pit, the front-right brake briefly catching fire as he did.

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Keith Collantine
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58 comments on “Leclerc accepts blame for ‘ruining Verstappen’s race’”

  1. What aboout the accident on the last lap of the Austrian gp where the situation was the other way around?

  2. 5 seconds for the bump on VER I agree, 10 seconds for driving with a broken car is much to little…

    1. Broken car and ignoring team orders to pit for repairs. Also ones again this team not assertive in issuing orders to its drivers.

    2. He wasnt giving the penalty for that. The fia told Ferrari to pit leclerc. Ferrari called leclerc to pit on lap 1 he ignored the call. The fia told Ferrari again to pit and check the car. On lap2 the wing fell apart and Ferrari told leclerc to stay out. That is why they got the penalty.

    3. I agree with that actually @melbourne-96.

      We could all see how he was shedding shards of carbon fibre all over the track. That was why the team were absolutely right to call him in. He “learnt” from Vettel that things work out when you tell your team to just wait a few laps. But it could have been nasty if someone would have had a puncture in the fast bits of the track. And when the piece hit Hamilton’s mirror, that looked really dangerous too, it could have easily slipped in between the Halo there. Not to mention it caused another retirement with Norris.

      1. @bascb Norris didn’t retire. He eventually finished 13th. Nevertheless, his chances got hampered due to Ferrari’s and Leclerc’s tactics, and Andreas Seidl had every right to be annoyed about those tactics since it directly affected one of his drivers. It should be clear-cut for anyone to go into the pit lane at the earliest possible opportunity following front-wing damage, no matter how minor. Yes, it might initially feel pointless to come in if a minor damage doesn’t affect pace, but even if the impact isn’t evident immediately it can, and more often than not will be later, so damage-limitation should always be the name of the game in these type of situations for every team, and driver. Norris getting problems with brake-temperatures from a piece of carbon fiber, and Hamilton losing the right-hand side mirror were 100% avoidable had Leclerc entered the pit lane at the end of the opening lap instead of waited for couple more laps before eventually pitting. Equally, Bottas should’ve come in from lap one rather than waited for a few laps in Hungary after getting front-wing damage on the opening lap there. Nothing, fortunately, happened there, but you can’t use hindsight to defend actions that could lead to something bad happening even if nothing happens. The pieces of carbon fiber from Leclerc’s car could’ve potentially ended up hitting someone on a grandstand, and or a marshal. There’s also that unnecessary risk involved whenever a driver attempts to keep on driving around in an unsafe condition.

        1. @bascb I should’ve included in the same post, but the same equally applies to Gasly in last season’s Abu Dhabi GP. He kept on running with smoke (and oil) coming out of the back even though he could’ve easily entered the pit lane to prevent having to stop the car on trackside, and oil getting on track since the smoke started to appear when he was at the penultimate corner a good number of meters before the pit entry. At times, I don’t really understand this ‘drivers voluntarily opting against using the earliest possible opportunity to come in when the car is in an unsafe condition’ thing.

    1. because the team had done their job of telling him to instantly box i guess. So they will have expected him to be coming in. But then after that, i suppose he should have got it for refusing and continuing to drive an unsafe car.

      1. Fia expecting drivers to follow team orders. Good luck with that.

      2. If that’s how the FIA currently handle it, they need to change it pronto. They should give the driver the black and orange flag at exactly the same time they tell the team to bring the car into the pits. This removes any ambiguity.

        Had Charles known he had been given that flag, he wouldn’t have argued with the team. From the driver’s perspective, if you aren’t given the flag then that must mean the situation isn’t that serious. Therefore the FIA is to blame, not the driver or the team.

    2. The fia told Ferrari over the radio to pit leclerc that is why they didnt show any flags

    3. @jerejj Apparently Ferrari told the race director that they would be bringing in Leclerc. Then Leclerc simply drove on.

    4. Lap 1, there may have been doubt as to whether the extent of the problem was known to Leclerc (the team should have known, but the proof wasn’t broadcast until lap 2). There is always 1 lap permitted between the team knowing there is a problem, and reacting to it. So it was only at the end of lap 3 when the flag could have been waved – but that didn’t happen because Leclerc pitted.

      This was the one thing the FIA got right this race.

  3. The one I have the most problem with the stewards decision is the letting Charles keep running with damaged car. It’s obvious visually that that endplate wouldn’t keep attached and it’s a major risk. We lucky that it hit “only” Hamilton mirror, not his head even if the chance is miniscule with halo around. I saw some people argue it’s not heavy like a spring that hit Massa, but if the impact is enough to dislodge Hamilton mirror, I’d say it’s serious threat enough. Also carbon fiber is sharp, the lack of mass is compensated by the much smaller contact area. A direct contact to visor could has sufficient impact force to puncture it and injure the driver.

    I think penalizing him post race is far too late. This is safety matter, a post race penalty would mean nothing if the worst already happened. Worse, Charles also didn’t get any driver penalty point especially since it’s clearly broadcasted that he insisting to stay out. It’s silly that honest contact from hard racing can give heavy penalty points but unnecessarily becoming a safety hazard is not.

    1. I don’t think charles should be even penalized. He can’t see how damaged his front wing is. He can’t even see if there are bits hanging on to his car or parts coming off. He can’t even see his front wing at all. He only knows what the team tells him. Penalizing ferrari is fine. Fia also made mistake. But the only scenario where penalizing charles makes sense is if he had kept on going despite the stewards telling him to stop or pit (like some schumacher some years ago). Doing something against what ferrari wants is not illegal. But doing something against what stewards want is illegal. But charles was never told that the stewards wants him to stop because the stewards did not tell that to ferrari apparently. Ferrari told the stewards they’ll probably stop the car.

      1. Charles could see that, because there were sparks coming of the front wing. However I agree that he could not see the extent of the damage.

      2. @socksolid I think he should get a penalty, but I agree it’s not entirely his fault. Charles, Ferrari, and the stewards are really incompetent in handling this matter. Ferrari should clearly communicated and told him the extend of the car damage and clearly told him the pit message is an order, not a request. The stewards should immediately waved the black and orange flag the first time he stay out of the pit, regardless whether Ferrari said they’re talking him to pit or not. Charles should be aware of his car damage and asked his team if he can’t see it himself. He has the knowledge of how the damage affects the car handling, but he don’t have the knowledge of the actual state of the car. Also while we call it penalizing Charles, in reality is it’s penalizing the driver and his team (at least his side of the garage), which is why penalizing the driver for unsafe release makes sense (until the stupid 5000 euro fine). We often forget the pit crew also have the same competitive spirit as the drivers.

        Personally I think he should probably get 5 penalty point. It might be harsh, but I think this is serious offence and it should give a clear deterrence message to others in the future. But probably even if he get one, it’ll be only 3 point since Vettel also ridiculously dangerous act in Baku only gave him 3 points.

      3. @socksolid Current methodology regarding race control instructing a driver to pit is to go through the team. So a team acting on its own initiative doesn’t necessarily look or sound differently to us than race control ordering the team to do so. It would have been logical for Ferrari to have specified which was the case, but we don’t get all the radio messages, so we can’t tell whether Ferrari wasn’t specific enough or if they were just plain ignored.

    2. The fia told Ferrari on lap 1 to pit leclerc and check the car. Ferrari told leclerc to pit and he ignored the order. The fia told Ferrari again to pit and check the car but since the wing fell apart they told him to stay out.

    3. Don’t you think it’s all a little overkill? It’s only an endplate, a small piece of light carbon fibre which, the likes of which have been hitting drivers in the face for years and years without any injury.

      Barring Wilson (whole nosecone) and Massa (heavy spring) can anyone tell me of a driver injured by flying pieces of carbon fibre?

      Health and safety…. killing the sport.

      1. The debris was enough to rip Hamilton’s mirror off his car. Do you need someone to explain what that could have happened to Hamilton were the debris to hit him instead?

        1. KJ it would have bounced off a helmet.

          Mirrors held in place with spindly little stalks. Easily broken. Come on man, you can snap them with your hands.

      2. I think you’ve been lulled into a false sense of security about safety. I’m sure you don’t need reminding that the dangers are still very real. Preventing debris flying off into another car/driver or towards marshals or the crowd is not “health and safety killing the sport”.

        Given that this particular debris knocked Hamilton’s wing mirror clean off in one hit, it’s probably safe to assume it would do a bit of damage to the human body too.

        1. You haven’t answered my query about drivers being injured? I think that proves my point.

      3. @M Archer Two reasons:

        1) It’s a required component of the car because the car was scrutineered with a front wing. The FIA could have left the car out and disqualified it for being underweight at the end, if they wished to be really cruel (it’s not been done before, but the rule exists). Better to get the whole issue out of the way while it could still be corrected. To take another example relevant to this race: if wing mirrors were modular, Hamilton and Leclerc would both have been called in for the same reason, even though both have had at least one race where they’ve been on the podium perfectly safely minus a mirror. Fortunately they’re lighter than endplates, so it’s practicable to have a little more weight than strictly necessary, or else pick up lots of tyre marbles and hope for a sufficiently merciful FIA.

        2) Debris is a safety issue, especially if it causes a puncture at the wrong part of the track (slow punctures can take several laps to develop, so no guarantees about which corner can be made). Plenty of drivers have had concussions from puncture-related crashes, and from a physical standpoint the cause of a puncture is not relevant. A 1 kg spring caused skull injuries to Massa in 2009, and an endplate is about that weight, plus it has sharper edges. Fortunately everything ricocheted without causing injury… …this time.

  4. Thank God Hamilton wasn’t killed today by Leclerc’s car debris! And yet FIA claim they care about safety… what a joke!

    1. Are you kidding? I thought you were making a joke… but no… you honestly think Hamilton could have been killed by a flying piece of carbon fibre?

      See, they have even brainwashed you into thinking such debris is dangerous. It isn’t!

      1. Let’s pretend it isn’t until it gets somebody killed, by contact or by causing a crash.
        And them what are you going to say? “Ooops! Guess i was wrong!” ?

        It was unsafe and someone could get hurt only for Charl to keep going and not wreck his race in lap 2.

      2. It is weight combined with speed that gives you the joules of impact. An 5.8 grams bullit from an AR15 at 3000 ft per second will kill you. Don’t underestimate the impact at 88 meters per second of a piece of rockhard material. Ask Lewis his mirror.

      3. @MArcher Are you silly… if i drop a penny fromthe eifel tower and it hits you in the gead you are a goner, Hamilton was travleling at huge speeds could have easily hurt him serious or made him crash did you see the swerve he had to do that took his mirror off.

      4. If you can smash a mirror of a car then it can shatter a visor too…. Penaulty should harder as his debree hit someone and ruined a other rider.

        1. Sorry guys but I disagree. The bullet analogy is ridiculous, size and shape designed to kill.

          You can break off the mirrors with your bare hands, a bit of carbon fibre half the size of a dinner tray ain’t going to do your head any harm with a helmet. Small chance of going into your hands or torso I guess…

          but shall we just stop racing?

          I’ve made the point twice already, nobody can tell me of a driver injured by small bits of carbon fibre. I suspect that’s because it doesn’t happen.

          1. small bits of carbon fibre

            This makes me think you didn’t actually see what happened. It was a large section of the wing, difficult to tell exactly, but around 40cm at least and bulky. This F1 video shows a glimpse (14 sec point) just before it removes Hamilton’s wing mirror and effectively detonates into smaller pieces. Even if the material hadn’t penetrated the visor, it could have exploded into shards in the cockpit with completely unpredictable but highly dangerous results.

  5. “…but it’s a long race so there was no need to risk so much so early.”

    these drivers need mirrors at home. they always criticize (in this case, rightfully) other drivers for exactly the same thing they have done at other venues. all of them

    1. Yes, VER of all drivers should think before he speaks.
      I have to give VER fans their due – not many stabs at LEC for today’s incident.
      I think Max has met his match.

  6. I would argue that penalising him for staying out is not fair, since he never disobeyed a black and orange flag. The stewards inexplicably never asked him to come in, so he was free to do what he wanted.

    1. All stewards from today’s unbelievable farce must be immediately sacked. Mr. Massi, of course, too.

      1. It does seem like its the “Wild West” out there under his term. For good And bad.

    2. GtisBetter (@)
      13th October 2019, 14:27

      It doesn’t work like that. A team is responsible for a safe car, if it’s not safe, like in this GP, they are given some time to fix it. But if the loose part breaks and they haven’t pullen the car in, while the had a couple of chances they have done nothing about an unsafe situation and that warrants a penalty. The orange bal flag is there to force the team, but the team has to act anyway.

    3. @carbon_fibre Ferrari was told to bring Leclerc in.

  7. Disappointed in his behaviour to be honest. Why argue with the pit when they ordered him in, several times? He must have known there was damage, despite the car feeling alright – its not like Ferrari would order him in for no reason? He deserved a quicker penalty for punting Verstappen out too, in a very lazy and half-hearted defense of a place he’d already lost and Vettel seemed to have the edge on him for the whole weekend. Bad showing from him.

  8. After Lec’s showing this w/end and his poor race craft on top of being trumped in quali, we have to acknowledge that Vet is definitely back to being top dog in this team.
    Too many errors Lec. That’s sure ain’t the way to get on terms with Seb, who is back to winning ways

    1. lol what? winning ways? Haha he came second and beating leclerc once in qually in 9 races means he is back? Lol do me a favour, he choked yet again with his start.

      1. Dan, getting back to winning ways will eventually lead to wins… that’s the hope.
        But yes, I must concede the start was lousy.
        Thing is we had all, myself included, completely written off Seb for the major part of this year and there he is trying to prove us all wrong, and, actually succeeding in large part.

        1. @islander yeah i had wirtten him off just think it is too early to say he is now top dog in the team he neds to really stamp his authority most races, getting beat is fine just not all the time. Vettel needs to do to Leclerc what Leclerc as done to him. One race does not change anything especially when we do not know if it was the start that messed Leclerc up i mean both Ferrari were affected big time by it so lets see in Mexico.

  9. Stupid crash, but what you expect from a second year driver, Verstappen was doing this in his fourth year, not a knock on Max but everyone has teething issues in their first few years

  10. He’s still learning. Verstappen has 4 full seasons under him and still makes similar mistakes.
    But after Austria it is clear to me that if there’s a guy there he is willing to play it as hard as he can, is Verstappen.

  11. Leclerc didn’t do anything that Max wouldn’t have done to him if the roles were reversed.

    1. Which is something the stewarts should take in consideration?

      1. Perhaps they did the first two times (it took 3 attempts to get to the penalty, which I find inexplicable. Why not announce the investigation will wait until post-race on the first occasion, if it was that difficult?) I’m not even sure the stewards are allowed to re-open investigations mid-race, though I do know Ferrari’s not allowed to protest that failing – the stewards are accountable only to their bosses in the FIA for that one.

  12. I think the team, in this case Ferrari, should also lose spare parts from their inventory that their car caused other teams to lose by not pitting.

  13. One little piece of carbon fiber is all it took to put Massa in hospital. Leclerc is very lucky no one was hurt

  14. He should be disqualified using black flag for that..

  15. Bring back smaller wings!

  16. Leclerc is making a lot of mistakes this season.

  17. Karma for Austria

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