CHARLES LECLERC crashed out of the French Grand Prix to give Max Verstappen a huge boost in the battle for this year’s Drivers’ Championship title.
F1 preview: A lap of the French Grand Prix
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Damon Hill has insisted that Carlos Sainz has been the de-facto team leader at Ferrari over the course of this year, with Charles Leclerc having struggled to convert performances into results on plenty of occasions since the beginning of the campaign. Leclerc looked set to clinch a simple victory at last weekend’s French Grand Prix before making a crucial mistake that saw him crash out of the race, handing Max Verstappen a major boost in the battle to secure this year’s Drivers’ Championship title.
The Ferrari man qualified on pole position and led every lap at Circuit Paul Ricard before losing control and skidding into the barriers just before the halfway point of the race. The incident marked another cruel blow to Leclerc’s hopes of clinching the end-of-season honours by throwing away a welcome haul of points yet again under the pressure of fighting Verstappen for his maiden F1 title.
Leclerc’s efforts have also been hampered by poor strategical decisions, most notably at the Monaco Grand Prix when he was forced to settle for a fourth-placed finish after Ferrari chose to pit him at an unfavourable stage of the race. Hill has urged Leclerc to cut out his mistakes and be firmer in his decision-making in order to realise his full potential at Ferrari, with Sainz doing a better job of taking control of his own destiny as things stand.
“If you can just stop making the mistakes and getting people’s heads in gear and getting them going in the right direction, that’s appealing, that challenge is appealing,” Hill told Sky Sports F1.
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Damon Hill believes that Charles Leclerc is not Ferrari’s main man (Image: GETTY)
“Carlos has struck me as more of the team leader, he seems to be more familiar with the strategies and he seems to be able to make the decisions. Charles is clearly quick and possibly quicker than Carlos has been at the team, but his pit communications, I think they’re halfway up the stairs.
“They’re neither here nor there, someone needs to take charge and say: ‘We’re making a decision’. It’s either the driver or the strategist. [They need] clear direction and maybe that’s what it appears to be.
“The potential is huge with Ferrari and if they can fix these problems I think they really will be a threat. If they can do that between now and the end of the season it could be a very close finish.”
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The Monegasque driver crashed out of last weekend’s French Grand Prix (Image: EXPRESS)
Hill previously called out Leclerc’s tendency to make errors under pressure after his latest crash at the French Grand Prix before slamming Ferrari, who have been widely criticised for their lack of proficiency from the pit wall over the last few seasons.
“Ferrari are a mess,” said Hill. “Charles has shown himself to have a fatal flaw. All in the mind.”
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Leclerc will be able to put things right between now and the end of the season in order to close the gap to Verstappen at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings. The Monegasque driver currently sits 63 points adrift of his Red Bull rival and will have plenty of work to do to catch up over the coming months as he looks to claw himself back into contention for the biggest prize in motorsport.
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