Leclerc Rues Ferrari 'Disaster' as Verstappen Claims Unlikely Hungarian GP Win
Charles Leclerc - LPS/Alessio De Marco — Photo by livephotosport

Charles Leclerc was left to rue a “disaster” from Ferrari’s racing strategy as Max Verstappen came from 10th on the grid to win the Hungarian Grand Prix and open up an 80-point title lead.

The Red Bull driver produced an unlikely victory in Budapest, finishing ahead of Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who started on pole, for the second straight race.

The triumph means Verstappen pulls clear to 258 points ahead of Leclerc on 178 after he finished sixth, with Sergio Perez on 173 after his fifth-place finish.

However, Leclerc was the big story with his team’s decision to switch to hard tyres seeing him plummet out of contention.

Leclerc, who started third on the grid, had led the race after overtaking Russell on lap 31 after overcutting teammate Carlos Sainz in the stops.

But Ferrari opted to switch Leclerc to hard tyres during his second stop, with the Monegasque driver unable to maintain his pace, allowing Verstappen into contention. Leclerc slowly dropped back with the need for another pit to change the tyres again.

“The pace was really good on the medium tyres, the second stint also (on mediums) everything was under control and then we decided to stop on the hards,” Leclerc said.

“I dont exactly know what are the reasons behind this decision yet, but well speak with the team for me to understand, but clearly it wasnt the right decision. And I made it clear that I felt good on the medium, so I dont exactly know what happened.”

He added: “The only thing is that everybody will remember the last part of the race where it was a disaster for me, especially the hard thats why I lost the race basically: I lost 20 seconds with the pit, another maybe six seconds on five laps on the hards because I was just all over the place with that tyre.”

Leclerc has only finished on the podium once in the past eight races, when he won in Austria. Verstappen has won four of the past six races.

On the title race, Leclerc added: “We just need to get better at putting everything together because it always felt like theres something going wrong, and we need to get on top of this by speaking with the team obviously, and first understanding our mistakes, and then getting better.”

Verstappen’s unlikely win even included a 360-degree spin on lap 42, shortly after overtaking Leclerc, which he swiftly recovered from despite the Ferrari getting back past him briefly.

“I was struggling a bit with the shifts and the clutch,” Verstappen said.

“We had to change a few things around to basically not burn the clutch, and that cost a bit of performance. I think that caught me out (coming) out of that corner, but luckily I could do a 360 so I lost one spot.”

On the win from 10th after power unit issues in qualifying, he added: “I think nobody really expected this, but we said to each other we have to remain calm before the race, and I think we did that; we made all the right calls and the race was a bit hectic in the first lap, getting a bit boxed in and staying out of trouble.

“But after that we did a few overtakes. We pitted at the right time, we put the right tyres on the car, I think that at the time we planned it, and then I basically saw that Charles was struggling a lot on the hard tyre so that was my moment to try and attack him.”

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer @bensomerford
Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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