Budapest, Hungary (AP) Max Verstappen understands why Charles Leclerc struggled himself so much after the crash last weekend.
Leclerc appears to bounce off at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday after putting Ferrari in the barrier while leading the French Grand Prix. The error gave Verstappen a win, opening a big lead of 63 points in the overall standings.
Leclerc shouted, “Noooo!” And he said he wasn’t worthy of winning the world championships in such a drive, and the observer wondered if he was defeating himself too much. But Verstappen, who has become emotional after DNF and reliability issues, said it was just Leclerc’s way of dealing with disappointment.
Everyone handles it differently. Some people need to ponder it that way. At that time, you’re still a little emotional, and perhaps a little too emotional, from what’s happening now, “a Red Bull driver told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. “But that’s okay. People need to be emotional and show emotions.”
Leclerc and Verstappen were both 24 years old and were rivals to Kurt before making a long hit in F1. After a hard but fair wheel-to-wheel race at the front this season, mutual respect grew among them.
“There is no doubt about his general performance and pace. He is a naturally skilled driver and it is always something you can admire. Naturally fast and without having to look at the data for hundreds of hours. “People,” Verstappen told AP. These drivers were already outstanding from a young age. They have this little extra compared to other drivers. “
After Verstappen scored two DNFs in the first three races, Leclerc’s lead over Verstappen earlier this season was almost 50 points.
“I was very frustrated because I was in second place, which was very easy twice. I knew I needed those points. I wasn’t out of pace, but I still retired,” he said. .. “The good thing about our team is that they tell me when I do something wrong. When they do something wrong, I can tell them. More … You know when the strategy is wrong, the pit stop is wrong, or when I drive like a pancake, you have to be honest with each other. “
On the other hand, Leclerc was ruthlessly honest with himself and then cleansed his heart.
“There is nothing that can help us get caught up in my mistakes that stayed in the past,” he said. “I made that mistake, it cost me a lot of points. I’m aware of it and need to move on.”
Leclerc has shown tremendous speed in qualifying in seven pole positions leading the season this season and has made a mistake driving beyond the limits in the race, but he doesn’t want to change his approach.
“I was pushing on a large scale (in France), which is why I made a mistake. But do I want to give up two tenths to avoid making mistakes? Probably not. No, “he said. “I believe it to the end. The goal is to be a world champion. Obviously, it’s a very optimistic goal.”
Sergio Perez is also optimistic, with Red Bull drivers looking at Leclerc, given that they are only seven points behind Leclerc, who is second in the rankings.
After the race on Sunday, there will be a four-week summer vacation, followed by triple headers in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.
“I think these next four weekends are very important to the championship,” Perez said. “We saw where everything was and hopefully by then I could have filled the gap.”
He also praised Leclerc for not making excuses for his mistakes last Sunday.
“It’s great to see the driver take responsibility,” he said. “I’m sure Charles is a very smart driver to learn from that mistake.”
Championship leader Verstappen is 70 points behind, but Perez hasn’t given up hope of catching his teammates and starting his late title bid.
“At this point, everything is still very open, so we have to keep pushing. I’m more accustomed to the car than last weekend,” he said. “I think there are a lot of positives from the first half of this season. Very good, very complete, good results, good consistency.”
Perez plans to go to a beach in Mexico with his family and friends during the summer vacation, but he doesn’t think he can disconnect properly.
“We are still working on everything,” he said.
Not fast enough yet
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has been on the podium four times in a row, but does not anticipate a record ninth victory in Hungary.
Mercedes took the podium for the first time in the season at the French Grand Prix last weekend, with Hamilton in second place and George Russell in third place.
However, Hamilton still believes that Silver Arrows are in short supply compared to Ferrari and Red Bull.
“We don’t have the pace to beat these guys,” Hamilton said. “Through credibility, we took advantage of their failure, but from a pure pace, we haven’t beat them.”
“I think we can fight for victory at some point this season,” he said. “But I don’t think we’ll ever get the fastest car in and out.”
Ferrari was expected to be fast on the Hungarolling track, Carlos Sainz Jr. led the first practice session ahead of Verstappen, and Leclerc was third fastest ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris in humid conditions.
There will be a second practice later on Friday.
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