Charles Leclerc fired ‘rash’ warning in title battle with Max Verstappen

Title-chasing Charles Leclerc has been warned that he cannot be 'rash' in his title fight with defending champion Max Verstappen by former Formula One champion Damon Hill.

The Ferrari ace holds a 27-point lead over his Red Bull rival in the standings ahead of the maiden Miami Grand Prix but his advantage was reduced significantly after the last race in Imola, with Verstappen picking up maximum points following victory in both the Sprint and the race, as well as the fastest lap.

That has put Verstappen within touching distance of his rival following a slow start to the season, where he failed to finish two of the opening three races, and pressure is rising upon Leclerc in his bid to win the first title of his career.

Signs of the pressure showed late on in Imola, where Leclerc was pushing to close the gap on second-placed Sergio Perez but a spin proved to be costly as he conceded a podium finish, re-entering the race in ninth place and rising to finish sixth.

Hill believes that Leclerc needs to be more measured in his approach to control his actions and think of the long-term picture, as a third-place finish in Imola behind a dominant Red Bull pairing would not have been a bad result.

“We’ve seen with Charles of course, Imola was an opportunity to consolidate. And he went for a move which was just a little bit too ambitious, and he called it greedy. I was watching sitting down. Literally, I almost grabbed my wife’s leg as he turned in, [when] they showed it from the onboard," he told the F1 Nations podcast.

“The moment he turned in, you knew it was too much. I’m not even in the car and I could see it on the telly. I was going, ‘That is not going to work.’ Boom, he spun off. [Leclerc] just thought, ‘I’ll launch it over the kerb,’ and it was just far too ambitious.

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“And you think, why do that when you’ve got so much responsibility? That’s the sort of thing that you need to weed out of your portfolio as a top driver. You can’t be doing rash moves like that. You look at Sergio. Sergio’s a safe pair of hands. He’s quick, and he’s a safe pair of hands. He hardly ever does anything crazy. He’s really good.”

Leclerc promised he 'won't do it again' following a disappointing weekend for Ferrari at their home race in Imola, which saw teammate Carlos Sainz eliminated on the first lap after being hit by Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren, and they will be seeking a response in Miami.

Ferrari enter the weekend with a slender 11-point lead over Red Bull in the Constructor's Championship, with Mercedes further adrift in third place with 77 points to their name.

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