Leclerc defends Safety Car after Verstappen criticism

Sam Cooper
Aston Martin safety car ahead of Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. Australia, April 2022.

The Aston Martin safety car leads Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's mAx Verstappen during the Australian Grand Prix. Australia, April 2022.

Charles Leclerc has leapt to the defence of the Aston Martin Safety Car after Max Verstappen compared it to a turtle.

Verstappen’s frustrations came during the Australian Grand Prix where the Aston Martin Safety Car was twice brought out following incidents involving Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel.

As they were last year, Safety Car responsibilities in 2022 are shared between Aston Martin and Mercedes and it is with the former that Verstappen took umbrage with.

He compared the speed of the Aston Martin Vantage to that of a turtle, not helped by its green appearance, and said it was “really bad” how the cars were being forced to slow and lose tyre temperature.

“The Safety Car drove so slowly, like a turtle,” he said as reported by Auto Motor und Sport.

“That was incredible. I don’t know why we were only traveling at 140 km/h on the back straight, although the accident site was already there cleared. We’ll have to investigate that.”

Not only did the Red Bull driver criticise the Aston Martin, he said the Mercedes car was more suitable.

“The Safety Car from Mercedes is faster,” he added. “It has better aerodynamics.

“The Aston Martin is really slow. The car definitely needs more grip. Our tires were ice cold when we restarted.

“I saw Charles [Leclerc] understeer on the last corner so I slowed down a bit and was able to get a better line. But it’s really bad how we’re driving behind the Safety Car.”

However it was Leclerc who jumped to the defence of the Safety Car and said in comparison to F1 cars, it is always likely to feel slow.

“It actually always feels too slow because we have so much grip in our current Formula 1 cars,” the Ferrari driver said.

“It’s very difficult, especially when we’re all on the hard tyres. I had extreme problems generating temperature.”


Leclerc was also hesitant to criticise Safety Car driver Bernd Maylander, having seen how much he was struggling.

“I wanted to complain over the radio, but then I saw how much the Safety Car slipped in the corners,” Leclerc said.

“I don’t think he could have driven any faster . I didn’t want to put any more pressure on him because of that.”

Maylander was thankful for Leclerc’s defence and said he was “absolutely at the limit” and “more was not possible with the best will in the world.”


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