Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2022

Vettel messaged Leclerc to offer sympathy over Paul Ricard crash

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc says Sebastian Vettel sympathised with him after he crashed out of the lead of last week’s French Grand Prix.

The pair were team mates at Ferrari in 2019 and 2020. They didn’t always enjoy a smooth relationship on-track, particularly during a series of disputes over team orders in the second half of 2019. They collided with each other at Interlagos that year.

However Leclerc said their relationship has improved since. Vettel, who announced today he will retire from F1 at the end of the year, got in touch with his former team mate after his crash at Paul Ricard last week.

“Our relationship evolved throughout the years,” Leclerc told RaceFans and other media at Hungaroring today. “I arrived the first year and I was obviously super-impressed and I think I was probably very weird to him because I was shy and didn’t know what to say when I was with him.

“But now he’s a friend and he always texts me, like he did after Sunday, and always tried to make me feel better whenever I’m going through a tough time. So it’s nice to see how much we’ve grown since I first met him.”

Other drivers also sent messages of sympathy, Leclerc added. “A few of them did. Mostly the most experienced ones.”

Vettel’s departure from F1 is “sad for me”, said Leclerc. “Maybe for him he’s much happier in the place he’s going now. But obviously it’s going to be strange to not see Seb inside the paddock. I’ve learnt so much driving with him and he’s always been super-nice with me.”

Leclerc said he’s moved on from his crash in France, which left him trailling championship rival Max Verstappen by 63 points with 10 races remaining.

“At the end there’s nothing that will help me dwelling on my mistake or staying in the past on that mistake. I did that mistake, it cost me lots of points. I’m aware of it, and that’s it.

“Now I just need to move on, focus 100% for this weekend, try to do the best possible, try to win this race and then I’m sure it will go well.”

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The crash occured after Verstappen had made his first pit stop. Leclerc said his rival had moved onto a less preferential strategy and the pressure on him had lessened when he went off.

“The real pressure I had before that, when Max was really behind,” he said. “Then at that point Max had already moved to a non-optimal strategy. So I just had to push and focus on my own race, which I was doing.

“But then obviously when you are fighting with the limits, sometimes mistakes can happen. And I think this is a kind of mistake that I just went too far and that’s it.”

He dismissed suggestions from other drivers that changing wind conditions at the Beausset corner may have contributed to his crash.

“I really hate to say ‘oh it’s the wind, oh it’s a bird’ or whatever. I think I’m driving the car ultimately and I did a mistake.

“Yes the conditions change a little bit every lap and that’s for everyone. It’s obviously more tricky whenever you are on the limit, but again, I think everybody’s on the limit.”

Leclerc expects to be in competitive shape this weekend, but said the Hungarian circuit hasn’t always been one of his strongest venues. “I think we’ll have a strong car,” he said.

“Paul Ricard and Budapest are two tracks where I struggled a bit more in the past, personally. But Australia was the case also this year and at the end I managed to have a great weekend. So I hope this weekend I can also turn things around.”

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2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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6 comments on “Vettel messaged Leclerc to offer sympathy over Paul Ricard crash”

  1. Being very different from Vettel, Leclerc is the fastest guy in the current grid, he just should learn not to overdrive himself. One may not get faster easily over time but may determine his limits.

  2. At least he saw the good side of Vettel’s message.

    But something like “I fell sorry you crashed” could have different interpretations… :-))

    Leclerc mentioned other messages, mostly from the more experienced ones…

    Alonso? Not!
    Magnussen? Not!
    Bottas? Maybe…
    Hamilton? Maybe…
    Perez? Not!
    Verstappen? Definitely not!

    1. Did Leclerc say that he maybe got a message from Bottas and Hamilton? He didn’t know for sure? Impact was bigger than it seemed then I guess.

  3. The cynic in me might suggest that Vettel is more empathetic than many drivers as he knows a thing or two about ‘unforced errors’…

    1. He knows what it’s like to make mistakes and let his team down. That’s nice of him. Lewis could take example from such attitudes, but he prefers to be different.

  4. @sonnycrockett sure .. Germany 2018 vibes, the one that changed his racing life.

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