Leclerc feared same fate as Verstappen at Copse

Jon Wilde
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Charles Leclerc admitted he ran wide at Copse when losing the British Grand Prix lead to Lewis Hamilton to avoid the same fate as Max Verstappen.

The famous fast right-hand Copse corner at the end of the old pits straight was the scene of the two defining moments of the race on a scorching Sunday at Silverstone.

On lap one, Hamilton and Verstappen collided, the Red Bull driver hurtling into the barriers at high speed and needing to visit hospital for checks after a 51G impact.

As a consequence of the collision, Leclerc, who was running just behind the two World Championship contenders in his Ferrari, got ahead of Hamilton into the lead before the race was red-flagged.

On the resumption, Leclerc remarkably remained in front until the last couple of laps when a fast-closing Hamilton this time executed a cleaner move up the inside to take the lead at the exit of Copse, the Ferrari running wide to leave the door wide open.

Leclerc had a ringside seat for the first-lap incident and wanted to make sure similar contact with Hamilton did not cost him a well-earned and surprising second place.

“Honestly, yes, I saw a bit the remake of the first lap, that I was the first viewer behind those two,” Leclerc told Sky Italy after his first podium finish since the 2020 British Grand Prix.

“I didn’t want to take risks because we are not fighting obviously against Lewis for the Championship. I tried to stay ahead, the only thing that tricked me a bit was that at the exit of the corner I took a snap of the back and that took me off the track.”

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Leclerc added that not being able to hang on for a shock victory “hurts a lot”. But it was another indication, after his back-to-back pole positions in Monaco and Azerbaijan, that Ferrari are heading the right way after last year’s dismal campaign.

He said to Jenson Button in his immediate post-race interview: “It’s difficult to enjoy 100%. Of course it was an incredible race. I gave not 100% but 200%, I gave all of me but it was just not enough in the last two laps.

“It was fun in the car but I lacked just a little bit of pace towards the end. We definitely did not expect it, we expected after qualifying to be quite competitive but not as competitive as now.

“We were fighting for the win, which was incredible, especially on the medium tyres we were extremely quick. Then on the hard tyres we lacked a bit of pace compared to the Mercedes, but overall it was much stronger than what we are used to.

“It’s great to have these type of races, it cheers up everyone. There’s a lot of work and it shows we are doing something right and working in the right direction. We need to keep going like this.

“It won’t be a smooth ride to get back to the top but we will give everything.”

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla