Binotto on Leclerc crash: No discussion needed

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc Sakhir GP

Charles Leclerc Sakhir GP

Slapped with a three-place grid penalty for the Abu Dhabi GP, Mattia Binotto says there’s no need to discuss the “rights or wrongs” of Charles Leclerc’s Sakhir race crash.

Leclerc had an early night in Bahrain on Sunday, crashing out on the opening lap of the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Starting fourth after a fantastic lap in qualifying, the Monégasque tried to slide up the inside of Sergio Perez to gain a position only to realise the gap wasn’t there.

He hit the Racing Point driver, pitching him into a spin and himself in the barrier with Max Verstappen an innocent victim.

The stewards investigated the incident after the race, declared Leclerc to be at fault and handed him a three-place grid penalty for the season-finale in Abu Dhabi.

While Leclerc and Verstappen retired on the spot, Perez fell to the back of the field before racing his way to the front to take his maiden F1 victory.

“Charles’ race ended after just four corners when he collided with Perez, whom we congratulate by the way for his first Formula 1 win,” said the Italian.

“The Stewards investigated the incident and have imposed a three place grid penalty on Charles for the next race in Abu Dhabi, so that ends any discussion about the rights or wrongs of it all.”

Facing the media after his early exit, Leclerc admitted it was entirely his error.

“I was in fifth I think and I was side-by-side a bit behind Max and tried to overtake him into Turn 4,” he told Sky F1.

“I had seen Checo but I expected him to go around the outside of Valtteri and stay there but I think he decided to come back on the inside and I was there and then it was too late to slow down.

“I don’t think it’s a mistake from Checo, I’m not putting the blame on Checo if there is anyone to blame it’s me.

“But I’d say it’s more unfortunate than a blame.”

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With Sebastian Vettel struggling for pace throughout the 87-lap grand prix, Ferrari walked away from the Sakhir circuit without a single point.

The German finished the grand prix down in 11th place.

Binotto added: “As for Sebastian, it’s a shame we could not get a single point out of such a crazy race.

“We have to look ahead, get this season done and then concentrate fully on next year.”

Ferrari remain P6 in the Constructors’ Championship with 131 points, 41 behind fifth-placed Renault.

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