F1 | Verstappen understands rival Leclerc’s emotional outburst at French GP

Charles Leclerc screamed “Noooo!” and said he didn’t deserve to win a world championship driving like that, leading observers to question if he was beating himself up too much. But Max Verstappen, who has been emotional after DNFs and reliability issues, said it’s just Leclerc’s way of dealing with disappointment

Charles Leclerc screamed “Noooo!” and said he didn’t deserve to win a world championship driving like that, leading observers to question if he was beating himself up too much. But Max Verstappen, who has been emotional after DNFs and reliability issues, said it’s just Leclerc’s way of dealing with disappointment

Max Verstappen understood why Charles Leclerc was so hard on himself after crashing last weekend, and the reigning Formula One champion feels it’s healthy for Leclerc to let his emotions out.

Leclerc looks to bounce back at Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix after putting his Ferrari into the barriers while leading the French GP. That error gifted Verstappen a win to open up a huge 63-point lead in the overall standings.

Leclerc screamed “Noooo!” and said he didn’t deserve to win a world championship driving like that, leading observers to question if he was beating himself up too much. But Verstappen, who has been emotional after DNFs and reliability issues, said it’s just Leclerc’s way of dealing with disappointment.

“Everyone handles that in a different way. Some people need to reflect on it like that. At the time you’re still a bit emotional from what just happened and maybe become a bit too emotional,” the Red Bull driver told The Associated Press during an interview on Thursday. “But that’s fine, people should be emotional, they should show their emotions.”

Leclerc and Verstappen are both 24 years old and were rivals in karting before slugging it out in F1. The mutual respect has grown between them after some hard — but fair — wheel-to-wheel racing at the front this season.

“There’s no doubt about his general performance and pace. He’s a naturally skilled driver and that’s always something you can admire. People who are naturally quick, who don’t need to look into data for hundreds of hours,” Verstappen told the AP. “These drivers stood out already when they were younger. They just have this little extra compared to other drivers.”

Leclerc’s lead over Verstappen earlier this season was nearly 50 points after Verstappen had two DNFs in the first three races.

“I was just very frustrated because they were two times very easy second places and I knew we need those points. It wasn’t that we lacked pace but we still retired,” Verstappen said. “The good thing within our team is that they can tell me when I did something wrong and I can tell them when they did something wrong … You know when the strategy is wrong, or a pit stop is wrong or I drove like a pancake, you have to be honest with each other.”

Leclerc, meanwhile, cleared his mind after being ruthlessly honest with himself.

“There’s nothing that will help me dwelling on my mistake,” he said. “I did that mistake, it cost me lots of points. I’m aware of it and I just need to move on.”

Leclerc has shown his electrifying speed in qualifying with a season-leading seven pole positions this season, and while he has made mistakes driving on the limit in races he does not want to change his approach.

“I was pushing massively (in France) and this is what pushed me to a mistake. But will I want to give up the 2/3 tenths to not make a mistake? Probably not,” he said. “I will believe in it until the very end. The goal remains to be world champion. Obviously it’s a very optimistic goal.”

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