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Charles Leclerc

Is Leclerc too error-prone to become F1 World Champion?

The mistake during Miami Grand Prix qualifying was Charles Leclerc's second after crashing out at Melbourne in four corners of racing. RacingNews365.com asks: Can the Monegasque end Ferrari's 15-year Drivers' Championship drought?

Leclerc Australia crash
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To news overview © XPBimages

When Charles Leclerc crashed out of qualifying at Turn 7 during the Miami Grand Prix, I can't have been the only one thinking the same thing: Does he commit too many errors to be a World Champion?

It was a key moment for Leclerc as he could have snatched pole away from Red Bull for a second successive time in 2023, after Max Verstappen made an unforced error on his first lap.

Instead the Ferrari driver took enough kerb to unsettle the rear of his SF-23 and spun off into the TecPro for a second time at that corner, an impressive feat given the run-off is as large as the Miami Beach at Turn 7.

Leclerc has previously shown his error-prone ways at critical moments, notably on the way to his sensational win at Monza in 2019 when he was issued a black and white flag for his borderline defensive move on Lewis Hamilton.

While leading the 2022 French GP, he spectacularly crashed out after just 18 laps. It was his second mistake in 12 races, after spinning in the closing stages of the race at Imola while desperately trying to stay within a second of Sergio Perez.

While you could argue that it was down to the car-specific limitations of the F1-75 - we now know it was particularly poor on its tyres - it is equally down to the Monegasque to drive around these problems and know the limitations of the car.

It perhaps does not help when a team is indecisive over what pit strategy they want to achieve; often times you could play 'strategy bingo' with Ferrari throughout 2022.

The team was guilty of throwing away a lot of points in that championship battle with Red Bull, notably in Monaco where it looked like Leclerc would finally achieve the race win he desired after four attempts of asking.

Now the team has allegedly streamlined this process with its new management structure, there is another element to Leclerc that he posses which could work in his favour.

There is nobody more critical about Leclerc than himself

Is there any driver that is more brutally honest and self-deprecating than Leclerc on the grid? I have never heard a driver blame themselves after a crash in the way he does it.

Whether it's calling himself "stupid" over the team radio in Baku or branding his costly error at the start of the 2022 Singapore GP as "not good enough," he has the ability to examine his own mistakes before blaming anyone else.

You'll often hear the phrase 'racing driver book of excuses' thrown about whenever a driver makes an error on track, but seldom does Leclerc recite any passages from it.

Those who know Leclerc and his work ethic, rate him highly as one of the best drivers on the grid today.

By comparison, top drivers such as Hamilton have made similar errors when the pressure is high - think Imola 2021 when he skated off the track in the greasy conditions and nearly ended his race.

			© XPB Images
	© XPB Images

A crash during qualifying of the 2022 Austrian GP also put an end to a potential pole and race victory amid Mercedes struggles with the W13. Then later in the season, he collided with Fernando Alonso on the opening lap of the Belgium GP.

Michael Schumacher made his fare share of errors leading races, notably crashing under Safety Car during the 2004 Monaco GP which put to rest his chances of a perfect season - he won 13 races out of 18 that year.

Verstappen has also committed his fare share of errors and professional fouls over the years before taking his titles, perhaps a product of his willingness to push the limits - as seen with his risky grid slot moment during the final restart in Melbourne.

But would be surprising if Leclerc turns out to be any more error or crash-prone than those drivers in his career. His talent is enough for Ferrari to bank on as breaking their 15-year Drivers' Championship drought.

Also interesting:

Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the Miami Grand Prix.

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