Charles Leclerc needs to "recognise that he has the talent" and "focus on the positives" after his French Grand Prix crash, according to Mika Hakkinen. Leclerc led the early stages of the race at Paul Ricard but effectively handed the victory to title rival Max Verstappen when he slid into the barriers. It means Leclerc now faces a 63-point deficit to Verstappen in the Drivers' standings, while Ferrari have fallen 82 behind Red Bull in the Constructors' battle. Speaking to media after the race, a disheartened Leclerc described his mistake as "unacceptable", also pointing to the spin that cost him a stronger finish at the Emilia Romagna GP earlier in the season. Offering his thoughts on Leclerc's latest crash, and its impact on the title race, two-time World Champion Hakkinen stated that he knows exactly how the Monegasque driver feels.
Hakkinen compares Leclerc's crash to one of his own
"Everyone makes mistakes but this one was very public and costly," said Hakkinen in his latest Unibet blog. "I have had the same experience, for example when I went off while leading the Italian Grand Prix in 1999, and it is a really difficult experience. You know what you have done, thrown away the win and you have to accept responsibility. "Charles is a fantastic driver and had driven perfectly until Lap 18. He took a lot of pressure from Max, but the Ferrari was very good in the quick corners and he was able to keep the Red Bull behind. "The way the Ferrari and Red Bull were so closely matched around Paul Ricard was brilliant, but Charles' mistake ended the battle. "From then on it was easy for Max, he controlled the race, looked after his tyres and took another important step towards the championship title."
Where does Leclerc go from here?
Hakkinen then offered Leclerc some words of wisdom, while pointing out a positive in that Carlos Sainz has become a "strong, capable" teammate to rely on. "What's important now is how Charles responds to this mistake," added Hakkinen. "As he said after the race, he has lost 32 points due to mistakes in Imola and Paul Ricard, and he cannot afford to continue doing that if he wants to beat Max. On top of that, Ferrari have also had strategy and reliability issues. "What's important is that Charles recognises that he has the talent and the car needed to win races, and he just needs to focus on the positives and take each weekend as it comes. One race at a time. "That's all you can do, concentrate on each race, focus on doing everything right. "In this sport you have to keep learning, working with the team, doing whatever you need to do."