Leclerc accepts the blame for Verstappen crash
SUZUKA, JAPAN - Ferrari's Charles Leclerc has accepted blame for a collision with Red Bull's Max Verstappen that wrecked both drivers' Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.
The 21-year-old Monegasque finished sixth but was demoted to seventh after collecting time penalties for the collision and continuing with a damaged car, while Verstappen retired from engine partner Honda's home race.
The Dutchman had accused Leclerc in the immediate aftermath of 'irresponsible' driving.
Leclerc said initially it was a 'tricky situation' but later recognised his mistake.
"I had a poor start. I got a little bit distracted," he told reporters.
"I was on the inside and being behind Seb (Vettel) and Lewis (Hamilton), I lost a little bit the front (of the car)," he explained. "Normally you need to anticipate those things and I didn't. So I'm the one to blame."
After the race, Verstappen told Sky Sports television: "Suddenly into Turn Two Charles just drove into the side of my car. From my side I don’t think I could have done anything different there.
"The weird thing is that initially they don’t even investigate it, I mean my whole car is destroyed. The whole side. There were just holes in the side of the car. And then they start to investigate it but now it’s after the race.
"I mean, what more should he (Leclerc) do to get a penalty? I like hard racing but I don’t think this was hard racing. This was just irresponsible driving into Turn Two."
The race was won by Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, with the Finn's team mate Formula One leader Hamilton third.
Leclerc and Verstappen are both now mathematically ruled out of title contention with only the Mercedes drivers still in the running. Hamilton leads Bottas by 64 points with four races remaining.Reuters