Charles Leclerc was left to rue what might have been after crashing out of the German Grand Prix whilst running fourth and having a pace advantage over the leading trio.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver had started tenth after a fuel system issue ahead of the final segment of Qualifying on Saturday had left him unable to set a time, but it was not long before he was able to make moves forward, and was catching the two Mercedes AMG Motorsport drivers and eventual winner Max Verstappen when he made his mistake at turn sixteen.
On slick tyres, Leclerc ran a little wide at turn sixteen and hit the run-off area only to skid into the barriers and into retirement. The safety car was deployed as a result and within a lap or two, everyone was back on intermediate tyres as conditions proved to be too wet for slick running.
“It is a disappointing end to the weekend for me,” said Leclerc. “After a good start, we worked our way forward in rather tricky conditions. The team did a great job and let me arrive in second place to fight for the win. The strategy was the right one and the car felt good.
“Unfortunately, I made a mistake in turn 16 and lost control of the car. I hit the wall and that was the end of my race. It’s a shame and I am sorry for the team and our fans.”
Leclerc has hit out at the very low grip levels of the asphalt on the run-off area at the turn of his crash, with the surface offering no grip to him despite going at around sixty kilometres per hour.
“It doesn’t make anything better for my mistake but, first of all, I think the Tarmac in the last two corners – it’s just unacceptable we have that on a Formula 1 track when it’s wet,” Leclerc said to Scandinavian broadcaster Viaplay. “We can’t have so much low grip.
“We’ve seen other drivers [go off], maybe I was the only one on slicks but I was at 60kph and had absolutely no grip. There’s something there. But overall that does not forgive my mistake. I’m completely at fault today and it’s a huge shame.”
Leclerc was at least pleased that team-mate Sebastian Vettel was able to climb through the field from twentieth on the grid after Qualifying dramas of his own to claim second place, and the pace shown throughout the weekend in both dry and wet conditions at the Hockenheimring should give Ferrari some heart going forward as they seek that elusive first victory of the season.
“Seb did a great job today and his result is well-deserved,” said Leclerc. “Our car and performance were strong all weekend, in both wet and dry conditions, which is a positive.
“We have to stay focused and we will give our best again at the next race in Hungary.”