‘I gave it my all but went over the limit’: Charles Leclerc apologises to Ferrari fans after his costly late spin helped championship rival Max Verstappen to win at Imola and saw him finish sixth – but he vows ‘we’ll come back stronger’
- Championship leader Charles Leclerc pushed his Ferrari to the limit at Imola
- However, in front of his home fans, he over-extended and spun off the track
- His costly error saw him finish sixth, with Max Verstappen clinching the win
- Leclerc apologised to his team’s fans but vowed they will ‘come back stronger’
It is hard to argue that Max Verstappen isn’t the best driver in the world right now after a faultless lights-to-flag victory at Imola.
While the Dutchman’s composure secured his second win in four races, the man he must overhaul for the championship lead was losing his head.
Charles Leclerc, who has driven brilliantly fast for Ferrari so far this year and enjoyed better technical reliability than Verstappen, should have finished third but spun off as he over-extended himself in front of his home fans and came sixth.
Charles Leclerc apologised to Ferrari fans after spinning out and finishing sixth at Imola
Leclerc, the championship leader, pushed his car to the limit but then over-extended himself
‘I gave it my all,’ said the Monegasque, ‘but went over the limit at the end. Sorry to the team and to all the tifosi who support us. We’ll come back stronger.’
Nevertheless, Leclerc leads Verstappen, who has suffered two retirements already, by 27 points.
The race winner also claimed pole, the sprint honours and the fastest lap in drying conditions.
Red Bull duo Max Verstappen (L) and Sergio Perez (R) came first and second respectively
He said: ‘It’s always tough to achieve something like that but all weekend we were looking strong.
‘Today with the weather being how it was, you never know how competitive you are going to be but as a team we did everything well and this one-two is very deserved.’
It was the first time Red Bull, who took second through Sergio Perez, had scored maximum points since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Of Leclerc’s off-roading, Verstappen’s boss Christian Horner said: ‘Charles was pushing very hard all race. It just looked like he got a little bit too greedy on that soft tyre. But mistakes can happen.
Verstappen lead the way from lights out and claimed an easy victory to reignite his title bid
‘He was actually lucky to finish the race and still get sixth-place points. But it was a bonus for us that we were able to take a few more points off them than if he had been on the podium.’
Several cars are still ‘porpoising’ – bouncing up and down – as a result of the new regulations, none more so than the Mercedes.
George Russell, who finished fourth, said: ‘I could feel pain in my chest and back today.’