Charles Leclerc says he suspects Lando Norris is feeling “very guilty” over his late tyre gamble that cost him a potential maiden Formula 1 win at the Russian Grand Prix.
Norris secured his first pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session at Sochi, and was on course to claim victory as he led in the closing stages.
But a late downpour left the McLaren driver contemplating whether to stay out on dry tyres or pit for intermediates, with his decision to remain on slicks proving the wrong call as the rain intensified.
Norris would eventually drop to seventh place, admitting he was “devastated” to see a win slip away in those circumstances.
Leclerc expressed his sympathy with Norris having gone through a similar experience in Bahrain 2019, when an engine issue late on lost him a first F1 victory.
While Leclerc felt Norris would feel responsible for deciding against pitting for intermediate tyres, he believed it was”just a matter of time” until the Briton scored his first win.
“Obviously I can imagine what he is feeling,” Leclerc said, as quoted by Autosport.
“Probably he’s part of the decision process in those type of situations, and he might feel very, very guilty.
“But he is an amazing driver. I think he has shown it very often this season. He has had a very strong season, and I am sure he will learn from it.
“It’s just a matter of time before his first win, so yeah, I don’t think he should feel so down after the race he has done.”
Williams driver George Russell also sympathised with Norris’ missed chance, after a tyre mix-up and puncture denied him a victory in his one-off appearance for Mercedes in last years’ Sakhir Grand Prix.
“It’s every driver’s worst nightmare leading a race and the rain starts coming down, so I feel really bad for him,” Russell said.
“I’ve been there last year. I know how it feels. He’ll have plenty more victories to come.”