Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Vettel “wasn’t expecting Charles to try something” as first-lap crash eliminates both Ferraris

2020 Styrian Grand Prix

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Ferrari’s poor start to the 2020 F1 season hit a new low as their two drivers collided on the first lap of the Styrian Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc ran into Sebastian Vettel at turn three on the first lap of the race, destroying his team mate’s rear wing and causing severe floor damage to his car.

Vettel drove back to the pits and retired. As he returned to the pits, Vettel appeared unaware it was his own team mate who had hit him. “I don’t know what that was,” he said. “I was taking it easy into turn three and then someone went completely up the inside.”

Leclerc also pitted for a new front wing and tried to continue, but told the team the car “was very difficult to drive”. He returned to the pits shortly afterwards and joined Vettel in retirement.

Speaking after the collision, Vettel said there wasn’t room for Leclerc to make the pass he attempted. “I was very surprised because I was at the inside and I wasn’t expecting Charles to try something. I don’t think there was space.”

Leclerc accepted responsibility for the collision and apologised to Vettel afterwards. “Obviously excuses are not enough in times like this,” he said.

“I’m just disappointed in myself. I’ve done a very bad job today. I let the team down. I can only be sorry even though I know it’s not enough. I hope I will learn from this and come back stronger for the next races.

“But it’s a tough time for the team. We don’t need that, the team doesn’t need that. And I put all the efforts of the team in the bin. I’m very sorry but it’s not enough again.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Vettel “wasn’t expecting Charles to try something” as first-lap crash eliminates both Ferraris”

  1. CL destroyed the race (that would have been difficult anyway) for both of them. How will the Italian media respond to this? Saves them from being lapped though.

  2. Leclerc screwed this one up. What a start for Ferrari this season..

    1. Charles move may have been a little optimistic, however Vettel turned way sharper into the turn than he needed to. He had space on his left, but not his right. Don’t believe Vettel didn’t know it was Leclerc. He knew, and he wasn’t going to give Leclerc an inch.

      1. GtisBetter (@)
        12th July 2020, 15:52

        Leclerc begs to differ. He already said he had no business there.

      2. You were on track now, were you? Leclerc himself said Seb did nothing wrong there. Still of course people like you will cook up a way to blame Seb.

      3. LOL. Which feed were you watching? LEC already admitted he did something stupid, and the cameras back it up.

      4. Where was Vettel going to go? A dude immediately at his front left, another on his left, he had nowhere to go! Meanwhile Leclerc could have easily backed off.

      5. In those very old video games, Vettel could have driven right through the car beside him to create more room.

  3. GtisBetter (@)
    12th July 2020, 14:53

    Reminds me of Leclerc Monaco race where he just had a very aggressive mindset from the start. Assuming it wasn’t mechanical, poor judgement.

  4. Beep beep, what the beep are we doing here.

  5. The Ferrari Effect. It clouded Ferrari for 20 years in the 80s and 90s and now again in the 2010s.

  6. 1st lap nutcase of the weekend.

  7. If VET’s car didn’t have floor damage why not slap a new front and rear wings and do laps to test the new modifications? Seemed early to call it a day with untested modifications on the car.

    1. I thought about that too… I think there might be suspension damage to his right rear @jimfromus

    2. Changing a rear wing isn’t as easy as changing front wing.

    3. As others say – not so easy; they would have to check the suspension, and most of all the rear crash-structure (to which the rear wing pylong attaches), not a quick and easy fix in any case. And with a midfield car now, not much potential gain either.

      1. Let alone DRS…

      2. It’s been done with barrichello back in the ferrari years in belgium, they managed to not get lapped during the SC and he ended 3rd that race, funny how technology worsens in 15-17 years or so that now a rear wing means retirement, unless the damage here was much higher than back then ofc.

  8. A bunch of jokers.

    1. I think they need to change the team color, the red is too much like the color of a clown’s nose.

  9. If anyone is trying to find a way to blame that on Vettel, the only other party involved has already accepted the blame and specifically mentioned Seb did nothing wrong there.

    1. Yes, even one of the biggest vettel criticizers like me won’t blame him this time, even though I’m kind of surprised that, since he started 10th and leclerc 14th, they seemed to be relatively behind when they crashed, which probably hints to a bad start from vettel.

  10. Interestingly enough, LEC has been emulating VET for a time now:
    · VET spuns inexplicably at Bahrein. LEC replicates it at Hungary.
    · VET defends agressively at Canada. LEC brings it to another level at Italy.
    · VET makes contact at Brazil. So does LEC at Styria.

    If only they stood team mates for longer. 😞

    1. The idea was that the experienced Vettel would tutor the newcomer Leclerc. Good to see it working out that way.

      1. ‘interesting’ statistics @niefer, leading by example in action then @aapje? Hope it doesn’t set a trend through the field!

        1. @bosyber – Haha, I’m afraid they’re not pioneers, though. MAG and GRO are dancing way sooner.

      2. @aapje – Glass is half-full, I like that. 😂

    2. VET leaves ferrari, frustrated and unfulfilled..
      Time will tell if LEC follows him in the same unfortunate fate

    3. Leclerc said he still had a lot to learn from vettel, here he is!

  11. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    12th July 2020, 16:47

    Someone tell Leclerc that the virtual GPs are over

  12. I guess if there’s any consolation to this, they weren’t looking to score big points today anyway. Of course that in itself would have been a huge downer for them from the getgo, but….of all times for this to happen, there could have been much worse times with them sitting higher up on the grid.

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      12th July 2020, 18:35

      Still, they could have gotten some data with the upgrades, assuming they were installed.

  13. RocketTankski
    12th July 2020, 18:00

    This reminds me of when KFC ran out chicken.

  14. Great to see Leclerc has accepted responsibility. People make mistakes. Difficult weekend mad even more because there probably wasn’t enough data to really check how the upgrades are coming along but the case has been closed and now we move on.
    Upgrades for Hungary which will hopefully bring more optimism.

    1. Agree entirely. The initial mistake left a very sour taste in my mouth, which was immediately cleansed away when Leclerc put his hands up and said fair cop, my bad. A mature and adult approach after some tempestuous moment before.

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