"I had nowhere to go," insists Leclerc


Amidst booing by tens of thousands of Sergio Perez's disappointed fans, Charles Leclerc insists that first corner clash was not down to him.

As the Mexican's car rose into the air, then crashed down and skated across the run-off, the huge crowd sighed as one. While some began heading for the exits, a sad, thankfully very small minority started fighting. A day that offered such hope had ended in tears.

In typical pantomime style, as he was interviewed trackside after finishing third, Leclerc was loudly booed, however the Monegasque remained adamant that it was not his fault.

"A lot of booing..." he sighed, clearly upset by the reaction, "guys, I mean, honestly, I had nowhere to go...

"I was a bit in between the two Red Bulls and unfortunately I touched Checo, but I had nowhere to go," he added. "So, it's life.

"It damaged my car and unfortunately it ended the race of Checo, but yeah, on our end we maximized our race, so it's life. Of course, I'm disappointed to end the race of Checo like that, but I really didn't do it on purpose. I had nowhere to go..." he said again.

The Monegasque appeared to have second in the bag until the race was red-flagged at half distance following Kevin Magnussen's crash. At the restart, Leclerc was fitted with hards, and while it wasn't anticipated that the mediums would last the distance, Lewis Hamilton was able to use his to good effect, passing the Ferrari just 6 laps later and holding him off until the end.

"We struggled a little bit with the hard after the restart," said Leclerc. "Lewis was really quick on the medium and then they managed to have a really good degradation. So yeah, they were just better today and it's life."

Adding to his frustration, Leclerc was under investigation for allegedly driving a car in an unsafe condition following his clash with Perez, the Ferrari having a damaged front wind endplate.

A team representative subsequently explained to the stewards that after the contact Ferrari had monitored the situation and was of the view that the structure of the wing assembly was sound and that it did not expect the end plate to detach. The Italian team had tried to check the situation from live TV but was unable to find suitable video.

However on lap 3 it noted a serious deterioration in the data and was about to take action when the end plate detached.

FIA representatives explained that from October 2022 it was standard procedure agreed by the teams and the FIA, and confirmed in January 2023, that the detachment of an end plate and the location of its final landing place, was not to be deemed as "unsafe". This was confirmed to the stewards’ satisfaction by the sighting of an email dated October 22 2022 and minutes of the SAC meeting of January 2023. Accordingly the detachment of the endplate was not deemed to cause the car to be "unsafe" and therefore no further action was warranted.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Mexico City here.

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Published: 30/10/2023
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