Charles Leclerc was left disappointed after seeing his Belgian Grand Prix end at the first corner on the first lap after being caught up in someone else’s accident at La Source.
The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team driver was minding his own business on the outside of the turn when he got hit by Fernando Alonso’s McLaren F1 Team car, which had already been hit hard from behind by the instigator of the whole incident, Nico Hülkenberg.
Leclerc initially thought it was Alonso who caused the crash but now knows better, but the first lap retirement ended his chances of a points finish, which he was hopeful of after strong performances during the Free Practice sessions at Spa-Francorchamps.
“It was disappointing to end the race in such a way,” said Leclerc. “Just after the start, I was caught up in an incident between two other drivers and had to retire from the race.”
Leclerc said the pictures of the crash were ‘quite spectacular’ but from his point of view ‘it was not that big in the car”. But having seen the marks and damage on his Halo head protection system, he feels lucky to have come out of the incident unscathed.
“I don’t know how it would have ended up without it, but looking at it, I’m happy it was there,” Leclerc is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “I’ve been lucky on this one.
“Looking at the halo, it’s not looking good.”
Leclerc said the incident, which has similarities to the one caused by Romain Grosjean in 2012, did not warrant the same kind of punishment as was handed out that day, with nothing that Hülkenberg did being deliberate
“Nico is not a driver that has a past and you can see it’s not deliberate what he did,” said Leclerc. “I don’t think [a ban is right] for this type of mistake.
“If something is deliberate and dangerous than a ban should occur but not in this situation.”
Leclerc is now turning his attention to next weekend’s race at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, which has bigger meaning for Sauber this year after their tie-in with Alfa Romeo.
“I am now looking forward to the next race weekend at Monza,” said Leclerc. “It will be an important one for us, especially with our Title Sponsor, Alfa Romeo, being such an iconic Italian brand.
“We will do our best to have a positive weekend there.”