Charles Leclerc distracted by Sebastian Vettel's poor start, accepts blame for Max Verstappen clash
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc accepted he only had himself to blame after a poor start became the catalyst for a disappointing race at Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix.
The Monegasque driver lined-up from the front-row of the grid but revealed he was distracted by pole-sitting team-mate Sebastian Vettel creeping forward prior to the lights going out.
Leclerc lost out to third-placed starter Valtteri Bottas and was then involved in a clash with Max Verstappen through Turn 2, for which he was deemed responsible, copping a time demotion.
“With the start, I had a poor start,” said Leclerc. “I got a little bit distracted. I saw Seb moving a little bit. Then my reaction time was very poor.
“The actual start was not so bad, but the reaction was very poor, and with Max, I just did a mistake clearly.
“I was on the inside, and being behind Seb and Lewis, I lost a little bit of the front, but normally you need to anticipate those things, and I didn’t. I’m the one to blame.”
Leclerc sustained damage that left him out of sync with most of the field and was classified seventh after another penalty, received for Ferrari not pitting him when his wing was broken.
“I tried to make the best of it going forward,” he said.
“After the first stop, when my front wing was changed, I gave it my all. I tried to make up as many positions as possible.
“Although it was quite fun to overtake other cars and fight my way up the field, P7 is not our target or a result we are satisfied with. It was a different weekend overall.”