The French Grand Prix started out really well for Scuderia Ferrari, with the team leading the practice sessions and later securing pole position for Charles Leclerc. He achieved the feat thanks in part to some assistance from teammate Carlos Sainz. However, the race ended in disaster after Leclerc crashed into the wall from the lead of the race. As a result, he has been forced to admit that his championship bid may already be over.
The Monegasque managed to fend off the charging Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez at the start of the race, and was keeping a steady gap ahead of the Dutchman. However, spectators at the Paul Ricard Circuit bore witness to a shocking spin on Lap 18, which saw the leading Ferrari slam straight into the barriers. A little bit of oversteer was enough to send Leclerc into an uncontrollable spin that sealed his fate.
Needless to say, it was another DNF for Leclerc, who has ended up retiring from the lead of the race for the third time this season. While the other two were caused by engine failures, he admitted that this time he only had himself to blame.
He initially complained about the throttle on the team radio, but eventually admitted that it was his mistake that caused the accident. “I think it’s just a mistake. Tried to take too much around the outside, put a wheel probably somewhere dirty, but it’s my fault and if I keep doing mistakes like this then I deserve not to win the championship,” he told reporters from the paddock.
He then went on to analyse the championship battle and all of his missed opportunities to stay within striking distance of Max Verstappen. “I’m losing too many points, I think seven in Imola, 25 here because honestly we were the strongest car on track today,” he said.
He left out the points lost due to reliability issues, focusing only on those that he can entirely blame on himself. “If we lose the championship by 32 points at the end of the season, I will know from where they are coming from. And it’s unacceptable, I just need to get on top of those things.”
He confirmed that he got in his own head and was thinking too much during the race. He lost the rear end of the car as a result of his personal struggles over the weekend. “I struggled a lot with the balance of the car, I like oversteery cars, but when it’s warm like this it’s very difficult to be consistent and I made a mistake at the wrong moment.”
Leclerc is now 63 points behind reigning world champion Verstappen. While the season is still long, he knows that the mountain is getting steeper. He has made it more difficult for himself after handing the Dutchman the victory yet again.
Meanwhile, Ferrari lost the opportunity to salvage a podium finish for Carlos Sainz, who started from the back due to penalties from taking on new engine parts. He looked like he could finish at least in third before the team called him in for an extra pit stop with ten laps to go. On top of that, he had to serve a five second penalty after a dangerous release from an earlier stop.