Charles Leclerc explains why ‘fighting limits’ with Max Verstappen sparked horror mistake

Sebastian Vettel to retire from F1 at end of season

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Charles Leclerc believes that a minor lapse in concentration while ‘fighting the limits’ of his Ferrari car was responsible for the crucial mistake that handed victory to Max Verstappen at the French Grand Prix earlier this month. Leclerc qualified on pole position and led every lap at Circuit Paul Ricard before losing control and skidding into the barriers just before the halfway point of the race.

The incident marked another cruel blow to Leclerc’s hopes of clinching the end-of-season honours by throwing away a welcome haul of points yet again under the pressure of fighting Verstappen for his maiden F1 title. The 24-year-old has since insisted that he will not be mulling over his previous error at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix but conceded that mistakes can often creep in when the stakes are at their highest.

“At the end there’s nothing that will help me dwelling on my mistake or staying in the past on that mistake,” said Leclerc. “Now I just need to move on, focus 100 per cent for this weekend, try to do the best possible, try to win this race and then I’m sure it will go well.

“The real pressure I had before that, when Max was really behind, 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.

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“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.”

“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.”

It remains to be seen whether Leclerc will be able to put things right in Hungary this weekend in order to chip away at his points deficit to Max Verstappen before F1 breaks off for the summer. He went on to admit that he usually struggles in Budapest but that he is feeling confident that Ferrari will be able to challenge Red Bull for victory over the course of Sunday’s race.

“I think we’ll have a strong car,” added Leclerc. “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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