Automotive

Charles Leclerc’s Post-Race Meltdown Is Still Hard To Watch


Illustration for article titled Charles Leclercs Post-Race Meltdown Is Still Hard To Watch

Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton won a record-tying seventh Formula One title on Sunday after taking home the Turkish Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc was running second until he locked a wheel on the antepenultimate turn and let two cars past. I still am not quite over Leclerc’s subsequent meltdown on the radio.

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You can find video of the mistake at around 5:44 of the highlights on YouTube, which I would embed here except Formula One doesn’t let its YouTube videos play on other websites.

More dramatic than the mistake, though, was Leclerc’s reaction. “You did a good job. Really good job,” someone calmly tells Leclerc after he’s crossed the line. He disagrees.

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The combination of shame, humiliation, and anger in the beginning eventually gives way to through-gritted-teeth congratulations of Vettel, which you get the sense was the real humiliation. Leclerc knows he should have been on that podium; instead it was his teammate, whose ass Leclerc has spent the season kicking. Leclerc is currently fifth in the drivers’ standings; Vettel is 13th.

I remember seeing this clip Sunday and recoiling a bit at the Leclerc’s vulnerability and passion, so late in the season and with the championship race over; when I saw some fresh comments from Vettel about Thursday on Formula1.com, I watched it again and it had the same effect. Here’s what Vettel said:

“Probably irrelevant, to be honest. Turkey is a special place for me because it’s where everything started. It’s probably not where everything ends but still I think, looking back to many many years ago, I think having Charles as a team mate, I often see myself in him as well.

“He’s a lot younger, he’s very quick and I think the fact that – I haven’t had the chance to talk to him yet – but I will tell him later that being on the podium or not actually is a bit irrelevant for him because he has so many years ahead of him and so many podiums to come, which I’m sure of.

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That the podium is irrelevant is easy to say when you are on it; Leclerc’s first chance to make up for everything won’t come until Bahrain on November 29.

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