Charles Leclerc sees his title lead cut to 27 points by Max Verstappen after crash at Imola; Leclerc was running third but eventually finished sixth after making an unforced “big mistake”; Verstappen tops Red Bull one-two ahead of Sergio Perez
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 24/04/22 5:06pm
Charles Leclerc believes the points lost thanks to his Emilia Romagna GP crash may come back to bite him in the championship, with the Ferrari driver critical of himself for being “greedy” in Imola.
Leclerc, the title leader, looked set to finish third behind the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on Sunday before hitting the Variante Alta kerb too violently and spinning off into the barriers with 10 laps remaining.
While Leclerc did not retire from the race, he had to pit with damage and dropped from third to ninth before recovering to sixth.
It was damage limitation for Leclerc, who still holds a 27-point championship lead despite Verstappen’s perfect weekend, but the Monegasque insisted he cannot make those kind of “big mistakes”.
“I believe the spin shouldn’t have happened today,” he told Sky Sports F1.
“P3 was the best I could do… we didn’t have the pace for much more and I was too greedy, and I paid the price for it and lost seven potential points compared to my third place.
“It is a shame. They are seven points that are valuable at the end of the championship for sure, and this shouldn’t happen again.”
It capped a disastrous day for Ferrari, who had Carlos Sainz retire from the race after a first-lap collision. Contrastingly, Red Bull could not have had a much better Imola weekend, sealing their first one-two since 2016.
“It is very, very close and I think it will be that way for the rest of the season,” said Leclerc of Ferrari vs Red Bull.
“And that is why every small mistake… well it’s a big mistake… but the consequence considering the mistake could have been much bigger.
“It’s only seven points today and it could cost more the next time so I need to be careful of that.”
Rosberg on Leclerc and Ferrari’s ‘dark day’
Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, agreed with Leclerc’s notion that he has to avoid those kind of mistakes.
“Charles… if you’re fighting for a championship against Max Verstappen you just cannot allow yourself to spin out there when you’re just driving on your own,” said Rosberg on Sky Sports F1.
“Yes, he was hunting down Sergio Perez but the pressure was on Perez.
“To spin like that, my goodness, he has to avoid that for the rest of the season if he wants to win the championship.”
On Ferrari, Rosberg added: “They were really hoping for a win today and to celebrate and this has been an extremely dark day.
“I am happy to see that Charles seemed to be on the positive side, though.
“I thought he would be more broken down… I think he’s going to bounce back very quickly.”