Leclerc accepts full blame for Sakhir GP first lap crash

Charles Leclerc has taken full responsibility for the collision with Sergio Perez on the opening lap of the Formula 1 Sakhir Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver got off to a good start and had a run on the Red Bull of Max Verstappen heading down to turn one.

Leclerc took the inside line heading up to turn four, but locked up going into the corner, resulting in a collision with the Racing Point of Sergio Perez which ended Leclerc’s and Max Verstappen’s race after the Red Bull driver took avoiding action.

Speaking after the race, Leclerc confirmed that he had seen Perez battling with Valtteri Bottas for second place, but expected the Racing Point to go around the outside of Bottas going into Turn Four, and when he realised that wasn’t happening, it was too late for Leclerc to do anything about it.

“It was a shame to be out of the race on the first lap.” commented Leclerc.

“I was on the inside of Max, a bit behind, and I tried to go side by side with him to the first corner and tried to brake a bit later.

“I had seen Checo in front of me but expected him to stay round the outside of Valtteri, which didn’t happen because he braked a bit earlier than Valtteri and came back towards the inside of the corner.

“As soon as I saw him coming back, I braked but it was too late as I locked up my front wheel and collided with him.

“I am not putting the blame on anyone else, if anyone is to blame, it’s me.

“Of course I am disappointed and it will be good to be back in the car in just a few days so that I can put this race behind me.”

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The innocent party in the incident was Verstappen, who avoided contact with Leclerc and Perez, but he ended up in the barrier after getting on the gravel.

He added that he was trying to keep himself out of trouble, but other drivers were acting like it was the final lap of the race, and Leclerc’s move was far too optimistic.

“I had a good start but got boxed in so was trying to stay out of trouble but everyone around me was being so aggressive and risking things like it was the last lap of the race.” added the Red Bull driver.

“Especially Charles going up the inside at Turn 4 and braking so late when the track is so dusty.

“I understand he wanted to pass a car but it was just too optimistic. I respect Charles a lot and he is a great driver but I think that was a bit too much.

“Checo couldn’t see what was happening on the inside, Charles hit him and then he was spinning backwards across the track.

“I tried to go around the outside to avoid any damage to my car but ended up in the gravel and then the barrier.

“It’s frustrating to retire so soon in a race where we had a racy car and a good chance of doing well.”