(Motorsport-Total.com) – In the ninth round of the Miami Formula 1 Grand Prix, pole vaulter Charles Leclerc was no longer able to hold the lead. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen had a better pace on the medium-sized tires and overtook the monegasker on the inside before the first turn without major problems.
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Charles Leclerc was visibly disappointed after finishing second in the Miami race
But why did not Leclerc defend his lead harder? To the question about this, the championship leader answers: “Of course it is always worth fighting for the lead. To be honest, with my experience from the free training sessions, I did not want to run on the inside because the grip on Friday and Saturday was a disaster there.”
Looking back, however, he admits that he probably could have fought a little harder against Verstappen: “I was a bit surprised because the grip was much better in the race. But when you look back, of course, you can always find things that could have been done better. “
Leclerc: No chance even without a misjudgment
“At the time, I thought it would be better to stay on the race line and optimize the braking point, but it did not work.” Race winner Verstappen could benefit from this misjudgment, but defended Leclerc.
“It’s just a decision you make at this point,” says the Dutchman. “And it is only after the turn that you know if you have made the right decision. So it could have gone both ways. You can not forget how fast we drive and therefore have to make decisions in milliseconds.”
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Charles Leclerc admits he could have defended harder against Verstappen zoom
But even without the misjudgment in the ninth inning, Leclerc indicates that he would not have had a chance against Verstappen in the first stint: “It was pretty clear to see on the media that they were faster and I got a nice hole there. Max. deserved to win because he was a little faster today. “
Leclerc without DRS also had no chance against Verstappen at the end of the race
But after the collision between Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris, the safety car still gave the Monegasquees a chance to win as the distance to Verstappen was neutralized and Ferrari seemed to perform better on the hard tire.
“There was a really good opportunity on the second lap after the safety car, but at that time there was no DRS,” says Leclerc. Although he “hit a curb quite hard” in one of the rounds in the second sector, “it did not have that big of an impact” on his chances of overtaking.
“I still believed in victory, but when DRS was activated, things got better and better for Max,” Leclerc said. Verstappen confirms that he did not have the tires up to temperature after the restart, which is why the Ferrari could initially stay so close.
Verstappen: Without overtaking maneuvers on the medium, it probably would not have been enough
“I struggled a bit with cold tires at first, which meant I didn’t have the grip I needed. But once I got them up to temperature, I was able to pull myself away again,” he explains.
The decisive factor for his victory is that he was able to make short work of the Ferraris at the start of the race, as the pace on the second lap on the hard tire was “very similar”, but with small advantages for Scuderia ‘ one.
Verstappen describes the duel with Leclerc at the beginning of the race as follows: “I tried to chase Charles because I noticed he was having problems with his right front tire. I was able to overtake him, which decided the race.”
The Red Bull driver is so much happier that he was able to win the race despite the many problems on Friday: “It was a very good comeback. I was not even able to make a test start, why I did not know what to expect But then I got off to a good start and it’s just around the corner [an Carlos Sainz] tried what fortunately worked. “