Max Verstappen expressed his sympathy for title rival Charles Leclerc after the Ferrari driver threw away seven points with a potentially costly error in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“It is easily done,” Verstappen said. “He was pushing hard. It is painful, but he knows that himself. He doesn’t need to hear that from anyone in here. But it is still such a long championship. It’s not great, but you can’t change it now. He doesn’t do it on purpose.”
Verstappen’s remarks reflect the genuine respect between the two men who will contest this year’s championship, and whose personal competitive history goes back to their childhood days when they were racing karts.
But they will be of little consolation to Leclerc, who knows that he made the sort of mistake that he can ill afford against a rival as consistent and formidable as Verstappen.
“I was too greedy,” Leclerc said, “and I paid the price for it and lost seven potential points, compared to my third place I was before, so it is a shame.
“It’s seven points that are valuable at the end of the championship for sure. And this shouldn’t happen again.”
Leclerc went into the weekend 46 points ahead of Verstappen. He left it with his lead cut to 27, and the Dutchman back up to second in the championship