Charles Leclerc has admitted he made a mistake that led to a time penalty at Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – costing him even more points to Max Verstappen. Leclerc was running in fifth place when Ferrari elected to pit him for a third time on Lap 43 of 44 in an attempt to gain the extra bonus point for fastest lap. However, he emerged behind Fernando Alonso's Alpine, and although he re-passed the Spaniard, Leclerc fell 0.6s short of getting the fastest lap. His day then went from bad to worse, copping a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane – going 81km/h when the limit at Spa-Francorchamps was 80 km/h. The Monegasque now admits that winning the title will be "very difficult".
Leclerc dealt a blow to championship aspirations
Leclerc started P15 on the grid following grid penalties, with Max Verstappen P14, as the top two looked to recover their positions in the race. However, while Verstappen carved through the field, Leclerc's afternoon was hampered early on through debris, which ruined his race. "To be honest, after the start, I was quite hopeful, and then we had the tear off in the brakes, so we had to stop and start everything again," he explained to Sky Sports F1. " And then I knew it was going to be a difficult race from that moment onward, but P6 in the end, unfortunately with what happened at the end, it is like this. "[Speeding in the pitlane] is not bad luck, it's just my fault, so it's a mistake and that's it." Leclerc is now down to third in the Drivers' Championship as Sergio Perez leapfrogged him with his second-place finish. Verstappen has 284 points, Perez 191 and Leclerc 186 with eight races remaining in the 2022 season.