Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Leclerc takes blame for first-lap crash with Perez, Verstappen says: “He should”

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Charles Leclerc said he was to blame for a first-lap collision with Sergio Perez which put the Ferrari driver out of the race and caused Max Verstappen’s retirement.

Leclerc dived down the inside of Sergio Perez at turn four, knocking the Racing Point driver into a spin.

The collision forced Verstappen to run wide. The Red Bull driver ran out of room at the exit of the corner and hit the barrier, retiring along with Leclerc, while Perez continued.

Leclerc told Sky he misjudged what Perez was going to do at turn four, assuming he was going to try to pass Valtteri Bottas on the outside of the corner.

“Basically I was in fifth and I was side-by-side a bit behind Max and tried to overtake him into turn four.

“I had seen Checo [Perez] but I expected him to go around the outside of Valtteri and stay there. But there but I think he decided after to come back in the inside and I was there and then it was too late for me too slow down.

“So I don’t think it’s a mistake from Checo, I’m not putting the blame on Checo, if there’s anybody to blame today it’s me. But I would say it’s more unfortunate than blame.”

Told Leclerc had taken responsibility for the crash, Verstappen said: “As he should.”

Verstappen said the start of the race was “all about just surviving in between the cars”, and criticised his rivals’ driving.

“I don’t know why they were being so aggressive and so reckless,” he said. “We are all up in the front and at the end of the day three cars were basically a victim of that, two cars of course heavily.

“So I don’t really know why, especially Charles in turn four, why he dives up the inside like that. Especially braking that late as well. What do you expect?

“Checo cannot see what is happening on the inside and he basically just locked his wheel and understeered into him. And because of that Checo was spinning backwards, I tried to go around the inside, tried not to damage my car but there’s nothing you can do there.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

Browse all 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

91 comments on “Leclerc takes blame for first-lap crash with Perez, Verstappen says: “He should””

  1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    6th December 2020, 18:20

    Extra painful that it happens in the weekend that Hamilton doesn’t race and (with the knowledge of now) Mercedes is mocking up both pitstops. It was a bust seasons anyway, so that makes it not such a big deal. But still.

    1. Honestly the loss of verstappen was annoying to me not because the race ended up being crazy, cause ofc he would’ve won in that situation, but because he could’ve fought with on-form mercedes, the gap wasn’t a lot on this track, and hamilton has always that extra edge on bottas in the race, so if not beating russel on pace because he was exceptional, at least try to stay with him and beat bottas, would’ve been realistic I think.

    2. @barryfromdownunder The irony is, though, that if the two Mercedes had Max behind them, as would have been likely without Leclerc’s inept driving, then they wouldn’t have had the luxury of a big time gap to mess around with their double pit stop. They’d probably have done the sensible thing and stayed out.

      1. @david-br and Max would’ve come in, perhaps. The sensible thing for Merc, given that situation, would’ve been to have one driver pit and the other stay out. If Max stayed out, they’re still leading, with a Merc on fresh tires behind. If Max pitted, they still have 2 Mercs ahead & 1 on fresh tires.

        But Merc doesn’t actually make real sensible strategy calls.

  2. Yes it was leclercs fault but verstappen went into the gravel on his own. It seems he thought he would have enough grip to turn right back onto the track and just didn’t slow down before going onto the gravel

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      6th December 2020, 18:23

      >he went into it on his own

      Because where else would he must have gone to? There’s gravel there. You have to drive through it. When dodging Leclerc, he was already on the final stretch of that fake-tarmac and the gravel is right after.

      1. of course you have to drive through it. slow down, stomp on the brakes (who cares if you lock up theres a whole race to go) and you will be able to actually turn. not sure he realised there was gravel though tbh, its dark like the tarmac maybe he thought it was all tarmac. yes leclercs fault but avoidable by max imo.

        1. @ Saad. That was never an option. He would have had Charles in his gearbox.

        2. Saad, if you brake and slow down on the gravel, you dig into the gravel bed. You have to keep some speed to be about to get through.

          1. @bascb If he slows down he keeps it on the tarmac. Now he mashed the throttle thinking he’d just take another shortcut like he did so many times before. Alas there was gravel and he ended his race.

          2. I don’t think there was much room to keep it on the tarmac there though @f1saurus, although I do think that Max might have actually expected there to be concrete there and not a gravel trap? He certainly misjudged the thing there.

            Still, had he slowed down in when getting in the gravel trap, he would have been stuck in there.

          3. At those speeds, the last thing you want to do is stomp on the brakes!

          4. I agree with this. If he slowed down/braked hard, there would be two issues – car may be beached and flat spotted tyres.

          5. @bascb He doesn;t need to “stomp the brakes”. Why not though since there was no one behind him.

            He should simply have taken a wider line through the corner around Perez. Instead he points his car to cut across the runoff and skip the corner. Like he did in Russia. In Russia he stole a position that way, in this case he ended in the gravel.

          6. @f1osaurus, what are we “arguing” about here?

            Surely you would agree (since you’ve seen enough racing over the years) that braking when you get into a gravel trap is not going to work?
            That was what i said to Saad.

            That Verstappen was trying to go as fast as he could is obvious.

          7. @bascb He should not floored it across the “runoff”. He should have avoided the gravel instead.

          8. I think you might have to look at the footage again @f1osaurus. On his inside were first Perez spinning and then Leclerc. And there were more cars not too far behind. There really wasn’t much scope to go anywhere but forward and to the side with a car travelling in a direction.

      2. @barryfromdownunder other drivers used to slow down to avoid going into the gravel…

        but it seemed weird, this gravel. Less ability to steer than in gravel traps of tracks past…?

        1. @neiana Steering across gravel only works at slower speeds and only when they have a lot of space for a very wide turn.

    2. You’ll never get the Verstappen fans to accept he could have braked harder and driven through the run off safer to rejoin albeit quite far back. He clearly tried to go through the run off as fast as possible and messed it up to understeer into the barrier.

      1. I thought a bit of that before @slowmo, but on review I don’t think there was much he could have done there was very little time and space before the gravel started – slow there you are stuck anyway.

      2. It was a similar crash to Sainz in Russia, in my opinion.

      3. @slowmo Completely agree. You can hear him not slowing down on the on-board. Verstappen brought this upon himself.

        Granted, just going flat out through the runoff areas worked fine before. I mean in Russia he simply cuts the corner and actually gains a place. This time he clearly messed up.

        1. @f1osaurus You are letting your glee at seeing Max go out overshadow all common sense and you are only embarrassing yourself. But hey, you do you. Not enough for you that Max dnf’s but you can’t resist your Trumposaurus way of re-inventing the scenario to satisfy yourself that Max is also to blame. So predictable. So childish.

          1. @robbie Lol, you are a hoot. Maybe you should watch some video analysis though. You know, try to actually understand what happens. It was quite clear he was trying to keep his foot down until he noticed the gravel.

          2. Trumposaurus of course I have seen the race and the footage which is why I have said of you and your ridiculous claim what I have said. But I’m sure that won’t stop you from continuing to embarrass yourself as you have done yet again with your response to me.

      4. You brake hard while taking a corner, you spin and since its the 3rd corner of the start, you probably get hit and spin and get hit again. Remember the cars are going much faster than the camera angle conveys and the bulk of the weight of the car is rearwards.

        1. He quite clearly stopped braking mid corner, had he braked to almost a standstill off circuit there would have g
          been no issue. He clearly gambled on trying to straight line the run off and blew it.

      5. If he would slow down he woulld be colleted by perez as he tried to get around him.

  3. Don’t know why the harsh treatment of Max, he avoided a collision and ended up where he ended up no one would’ve got through that and Checo was fortunate to still be on tarmac. Max 100% victim today and doesn’t get the crashtappen nickname.

    1. He took himself out of the race. He avoided and collision and his greed got the better of him.

      1. @faulty If anything Max was uncharacteristically conservative, braking early as he sensed trouble developing. On this occasion that was the unlucky strategy. I can’t call it the wrong strategy, because it was the sensible, measured, thinking ahead move to make.

        It was good mature thinking from Max and he was unlucky to get mixed up in Leclerc’s misjudged attempt.

        1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
          6th December 2020, 20:43

          I was impressed by Max’s reserved actions and thought he was throughly unlucky. Criticism where it is due – which it is not with Max today.

          I’m more surprised by a Ferrari driver showing humility!! Haha…

      2. If Max had been Max today, Perez would not have won! 3 cars would have been out in turn 4.

    2. @icarby Agree. Plus Max analyzed what was wrong with Leclerc’s move perfectly.

  4. I’m sorry but verstappen’s retirement was a bit of an unforced error. Yes there was a crash which impeded the corner, however trying to go around the outside and cut the next corner without slowing down sufficiently put him in the barrier.


      Where do you want him to go? Either Lec or Perez are taking him out no matter what.
      He was fully in control of his car.

      1. Yeah I don’t understand all the comments saying Max got greedy and could have avoided it. From the onboard it sounds like he never got back on the throttle, and there’s only a couple of metres of runoff where he could even try to turn to rejoin the track. But there’s so little grip there that even with full steering lock the car just went straight on. Just unfortunate that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

        1. We could even consider Perez thanking Max for taking avoiding action otherwise we would have had 3 cars out in turn 4.

          1. Exactly. Max had to keep his car going straight at the last minute as Perez’s car was headed towards his rear wheel. I’m afraid we have a lot of emotional people making comments that bear no resemblance to reality.

        2. @keithedin I don’t think Max was greedy, but I think it was still on him. He didn’t drive full on into the wall, or cause a collision or anything like that, but many other drivers would’ve slowed considerably. I’ve seen some drivers, maybe more often at the back of the grid, actually stop in such situations. That’s quite conservative… but today was definitely Max being a conservative version of Max. Not “his fault” per se, but it was still his, maybe lack of experience on such tracks? I’m not sure. It’s really hard to point at him and boo, because he doesn’t deserve it in this situation, but it’s also very clearly something he did that was a mistake.

          1. Watch the replay. If he stops or stomps on the breaks, you either have 1) a big pile-up or 2) Lec running into the back of him. Whatever Max does, people will argument the opposite….”He should have tried going through the gravel instead of wrecking Perez’s race”

  5. Verstappen

    I don’t know why they were being so aggressive and so reckless,

    LOL I nearly spat out my coffee with that statement.
    Verstappen was just caught up in an incident so he’s right to be a bit miffed. But that statement…wow.

    1. Verstappen backed out twice of a battle before reaching turn 4…Max had matured more than your comment implies.

      1. Backed out of being in the middle of three wide for the second time in as many straights. He himself drove into the middle, of three wide, twice. He was being absolutely aggressive & reckless up until the moment where he decided to back out.

    2. Lol hypocrite

    3. I know right, the irony was just so funny.

      On the other hand, you do have to admit that he finally tried to do the grown up thing, backing out of being the middle car going 3 into a corner. Then he wastes it all by trying to cut the corner through the runoff forgetting there was actually gravel and not just runoff.

      1. @f1osaurus to be fair, it seemed like a very strange gravel that didn’t really allow a driver to steer nearly as much as other gravel traps in the past. Though I still definitely agree with your assessment, otherwise.

        Maybe Max just doesn’t have much gravel experience? I don’t know his history.

        1. @neiana How does that make it “fair” though?

          I wonder what he learns from this race. He tries to do the mature thing and not crash as the middle of 3 into a corner, then gets obstructed by an incident and then puts it in the wall. So one mature thing, one thing caused by poor driving of others and then poor driving for himself.

    4. Agreed. Rich comments.

    5. He matured for some time already. But some still see the rookie. Well, it only shows lack of knowledge.

      1. Davethechicken
        6th December 2020, 22:34

        Indeed Erijke, kicking the crash barrier with his left foot, like that, was very grown up and mature.
        I suppose blinkers must filter the obvious out.

      2. Mature enough to crash on the warm up lap in Hungary? Mature enough to bin in it Turkey? Mature enough to race across the “runoff” which then turns out to be gravel?

        1. What about Portugal Free Practice 2?

  6. Verstappen

    I don’t know why they were being so aggressive and so reckless,

    LOL I nearly spat out my coffee with that statement.
    Verstappen was just caught up in an incident so he’s right to be a bit miffed. But that statement…wow.

  7. Looked like Verstappen either thought the run-off was tarmac all the way to the barrier, or felt he needed to get a shift on because he thought either Leclerc or Perez’s car might be heading his way (trying to outrun the accident)…

    1. Indeed , he couldn’t brake because Perez was spinning his way and Lec too. It’s unfortunate that the gravel was unforgiving.

      Somehow the haters here want to allocate some blame to Max. Ridiculous. He was driving very calculated, not risking his race in the first lap, while Torpedo Charles is reckless. And Charles seems not to learn as quickly as Max .

      1. @trib4udi Just check the footage. It’s clear Verstappen was flooring it.

        1. Check Lec onboard….Perez or Lec were taking him out otherwise.

        2. he couldn’t brake to stay on the tarmac because Lec and Per would have taken him out. so his only option is through the gravel. you need to have pace, otherwise you sink in. steering didn’t work.

          but hey, let’s consider he had done your option and that he would be taken out by Per or LEc. then you would appear on this forum stating that he should have tried his luck through the gravel, wouldn’t you?

          somehow I feel posting this is fruitless effort.

          1. @trib4udi Nonsense. Perez was standing still well in time and Leclerc was behind him.

            He doesn’t have to park it, just take a normal wide line around Perez and he would have been fine. Instead he floors it and tries to cut across the runoff. Just like he did in Russia.

          2. Wide line around Perez means going through the gravel…
            Lec behind him…exactly…he would have gone straight into Ver had the latter slowed down or stopped.

      2. @trib4udi riiiiiiiiiiiiiggggggggggghhhhhhhhhht so shoving his front wing in between two other cars on as many straights is “not risking” anything on the first lap. The only moment he showed any calculation or that he was being risk averse is actually the moment before the crash happened. Everything else leading up to that point was him being aggressive and, really, quite crazy.

  8. Stats don’t lie. Leclerc caused more crashes this season alone (that led to another driver’s retirement) than Max in his whole F1 career of 6 years.

    PR boy Charles gets away with it , and bad boy Max the wrong reputation.
    Charles is almost as quick as Max but much more reckless.

    stats don’t lie…

    1. Yes, he’s a bit reckless. But he’s nice and fast :)

    2. Nobody is saying Leclerc didn’t cause an accident but nobody hit Verstappen and he drove it into the barriers himself. The only person that caused Verstappen to retire was himself.

      1. The redbull doesn’t have the knightrider’s turbo boost jump so he needed yo avoid the cars in his way.

        But Newey is on that now

        1. Davethechicken
          6th December 2020, 20:31

          I think Max thought the gravel was tarmac. It was black/grey so did look like it.
          If you listen to his on board he seems to accelerate towards it as he turned right.

      2. Actually Leclerc did hit Verstappens rear tyre. See video above.

        1. @geekracer2000 No one hit Verstappen he lost it when he went onto the gravel and accelerated into the wall. Not his fault but definitely no hit, look at the over heads.

          1. See video, link in post above. start at 1:35.
            It is not that hard.

        2. @geekracer2000 It’s at 1:43 and Leclerc does not hit Verstappen, look at the over head it’s not that hard :))

    3. @trib4udi Ah ok, you are delusional. Verstappen caused more incidents in his first season than Leclerc in his whole career.

      1. Counting is another of your obvious weaknesses :)

        1. Not really. People keep showing you that you can’t count. You only count the last 8 races of 2018 to pretend Verstappen beat Ricciardo. This is the same thing. Your blinders only let you count what you want to count.

    4. Leclerc has caused three crashes this season:
      Styria with Vettel – clearly his fault
      Sochi with Stroll – again his fault, but didn’t get a penalty so maybe it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
      Sakhir with Perez – again his fault, but technically Perez didn’t retire (he won the race!) so it didn’t cause a retirement.

      Then none in 2018, and one in 2019 (Suzuka, with Verstappen).

      In his career, Verstappen has caused only one that I can think of:
      Monaco 2015 with Grosjean

      So technically you are right, but Verstappen has had other questionable moments:
      Baku 2018 with Ricciardo (more of a 50-50)
      Shanghai 2018 (crashed into Vettel)
      Monaco 2016 and 2018 (crashed, but Leclerc did too in Germany 2019)
      Spa 2019 (crash)
      Sakhir 2020 (crash)
      Plus all the problems with moving under braking in 2016. Leclerc has caused a few too many accidents this year, but Verstappen had similar issues early in his career.

      1. Why are you bringing up 1sided incidents (of which Lec had his own fair share too; why not mentioning these? very selective…) My point was about crashes where Lec or Max ended the race of another driver.

        My comment was factual. You are making things up: you mention Max on Grosjean in Monaco, but Grosjean just finished the race. So that is not even an example.

        I will help you though: Max took out Daniel in Hungary, the only time in 6 years he ended the race of another driver.

        Conclusion: haters seem to enjoy echoing the Crashstappen theme while by pure stats he is one of the least reckless drivers on the grid. Just in Max’ case, ‘followers’ seem to have selective memory.

      2. Good overview, thanks for adding some context to the discussion. They’re very similar in their on-track conduct, but Max has received a lot more criticisim because of his hard-headedness. Charles is perceived as a nice guy, and thus not getting the same treatment.

    5. @trib4udi actually many times Max is at fault but the official line is that the fault lies elsewhere. :)

  9. Charles: Karma for Brazil 2019
    Max: Karma for Austria 2019

  10. Max just reacted badly

    1. Davethechicken
      6th December 2020, 20:29

      When he crashed, or kicked the crash barrier afterwards?

    2. @carlosmedrano Though it was hilarious to see how he reacted to being on the collecting end of overly aggressive actions.

  11. 26.400.000$ a year. Started F1 when he 17! years old. I love some of these comments, they make me laugh all night. Keep on going specialists!

    1. Crying helps

      1. I don’t know. Men don’t cry.

        1. Davethechicken
          7th December 2020, 12:10

          Yes, real men call each other names and kick crash barriers.

  12. Because Max Verstappen has never done a lunge and had it fail on him. Get in the bin. Empathise with your crash and the situation, but don’t dish out anger for something you’ve done as well

    1. “Okay, get in.”

  13. Very embarrassing by Leclerc. One moment I think he’s one of the very best, and then he does something like this.

    But that stupid gravel trap made everyone lose a great fight with Verstappen not in it. How anyone can still be talking this stuff up is beyond me.

    1. A repeat of Ferrari’s Styrian GP collision could seriously have happened in the previous race.

Comments are closed.