Criticised by former F1 drivers over his recent crashes, Charles Leclerc insists “mistakes are normal” because he is pushing hard in an under-performing Ferrari.
Out of the Bahrain Grand Prix due to an engine problem and facing penalties at the next race in Saudi Arabia, Leclerc began his 2023 campaign as a driver under pressure with just six points on the board after two races.
Four crashes over the course of the next three race weekends didn’t help his cause.
Crashing twice at the Miami Grand Prix, both accidents at Turn 7 first in practice and then in qualifying, David Coulthard told Channel 4 that it was “not acceptable and that’s a chink in his armour” while Martin Brundle told Sky Sports “it’s holding him and the team back.”
According to Jenson Button, Leclerc is “every bit as quick as anyone else, if not the fastest driver out there in terms of raw pace but he doesn’t seem to know where the limit is.”
The driver, though, disagrees.
According to Leclerc, mistakes are “normal” as he has to “explore the limits” of the track in order to bring out the best in his Ferrari.
“I concentrate entirely on the speed and on exploring the limits of the racing car, mistakes are normal,” he insisted to Speedweek.
“Of course there’s pressure, especially when you’re part of Ferrari, and with the smallest mistake, people are disappointed in you.”
Leclerc’s Miami Grand Prix crashes followed on his from his Baku shunt, the driver into the barriers in qualifying. That, though, netted him pole position for the race.
However, even though he started P1 Leclerc finished in third place as he was overtaken by the rampant Red Bull pairing of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.
But with his Baku qualifying crash coming on the back of his Australian GP DNF, the result of a lap 1 accident with Lance Stroll, it has pundits wondering if Leclerc is succumbing to the pressure.
He denied this.
He replied: “I am aware of my responsibility. As a racing driver you have to be able to deal with pressure, it’s part of the business like a wheel-to-wheel duel with an opponent. And it’s also part of the job that things don’t always go the way people hope.
“A good performance is the mixture of work, preparation and risk. I have to be able to find out where the limits of the car and the tires are, especially in a final training session.
“Hard work and consistency are essential for success, but it would be unrealistic to assume that everything will always run smoothly.”