Christian Horner has refuted the suggestion that Charles Leclerc is a “crasher” handing the World Cup to Max Verstappen on a plate.
After regaining the title position by winning the Austrian Grand Prix, Leclerc had a golden opportunity to eat further into his rival’s championship advantage as he led the French GP.
Starting from pole position, the Ferrari driver fended off an early challenge from Verstappen, who then pitted on lap 16 to attempt the undercut.
But with no pressure, although his own tires may have started to lose performance, Leclerc spun into the barrier and exited the race – with Verstappen winning and expanding his margin in the drivers’ standings to 63 points.
It was the latest in a long list of races where Leclerc has been unlucky this season, mainly due to car trouble or failed strategic decisions by Ferrari.
However, this incident sits alongside a spin at Imola, where he dropped from third to sixth, in the column of Leclerc’s own mistakes – as he then took responsibility rather than blame the car.
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) July 24, 2022
When asked by Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz whether the Monegask can now be labeled a “crasher” costing himself valuable points in his duel with Verstappen, Red Bull team boss Horner said: “I don’t think so.
“I don’t know if anything else contributed to his accident. He is a very strong driver.
“I mean, these two guys, they’re operating and pushing each other so hard. And these cars are right on the edge in these conditions.
“His bad luck was our luck today and it has turned around over the course of the year.”
Obviously we’ll never know what would have happened if Leclerc hadn’t made his mistake in the sense that he or Verstappen would have taken the lead later on, but Horner acknowledged that fans could have enjoyed a treat in the form of a new one. exciting battle between the drivers who have won 10 of this year’s 12 races.
“It would have been fascinating to see if Charles had a pit stop, he would have been two or three laps ahead of the tyres,” said Horner. “It would have been a great fight.
“[Our] tire temperatures actually looked pretty under control, wear looked good, we didn’t have as many blisters as the Ferrari and so we felt pretty strong so we went on an aggressive one stop. ”