Unfair to label Leclerc error prone after France F1 crash, says Binotto

Ferrari thinks it unfair to suggest that Charles Leclerc is prone to errors, despite the mistake that cost him a likely victory in Formula 1’s French Grand Prix.

The Monegasque driver was leading early on at Paul Ricard and, with better tyre degradation than main rival Max Verstappen, looked to be fully in control of things.

However, a mistake on lap 18 pitched him off in to the crash barrier – forcing him out on the spot and opening the door for Verstappen to take a win that further extended his championship lead.

Leclerc’s mistake in France comes in the wake of him also losing valuable points at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, when he damaged his car after an accident at the Variante Alta chicane when he had been in pursuit of second place.

Then he was able to get the car back to the pits for repairs before eventually recovering to finish sixth.

Both high-profile incidents have cost Leclerc valuable points in the championship, and now leave him needing a dramatic change of fortune if he is to properly take the fight to Verstappen over the remainder of the campaign.

But team boss Mattia Binotto has dismissed any suggestion that Leclerc had a propensity for making mistakes.

“I think it's a bit of an unfair judgement,” he said. “I think he was driving certainly at the limit. There are things that may happen when you're driving to the limit.

“Why it happened, [we will see if] is there anything else, we take our time with him to discuss, and to judge, but at the moment there is no reason to blame him.

“I'm pretty sure he will learn. We have always seen that Charles is reacting very strongly and well to when he's doing mistakes. And I'm pretty sure that he will be back in Hungary stronger and hungry.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, crashes out at Le Beausset

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, crashes out at Le Beausset

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Binotto reckons that, based on the speed that Ferrari had shown over the weekend, allied to the better tyre degradation of Leclerc early on, the win was there for the taking.

“It has been a good weekend in terms of pace, and the car has proved to be very competitive. I think Carlos’s [Sainz] race as well showed it.

“Charles got the pole. He was leading the race. I think we had an edge on the Red Bull in terms of tyre degradation by lap 15, and then Max had to stop.

“We could have extended the stint and we were extending the stint, looking at the time where Max stopped when he was starting suffering from tyre degradation.

“Charles was gaining two or three tenths per lap on him, proving once again that our car is great and gentle with tyre management.”

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Rather than dwell on the disappointment of Paul Ricard, Binotto says the focus now is on hitting back in style in Hungary.

“I think we come out from here, Le Castellet, with full confidence in our package, in our drivers’ capacity and our speed.

“Lucky enough now, in a week’s time, we've got Hungary. It’s important for us to turn the page, to look forward. Hungary will be again very hot there and it will be again about tyre management, tyre degradation and tyre overheating, very similar to Le Castellet.

“So I will say there is plenty of reason why we need to smile, and be positive, because our objective going in to Hungary should be not for a winning, but a 1-2.”

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