Ferrari Formula 1 boss Mattia Binotto believes it is “unfair” to suggest Charles Leclerc is too prone to making errors despite crashing out of the French Grand Prix.
Leclerc led all of the first 18 laps at Paul Ricard despite constant pressure from Max Verstappen, as he looked to extend his first stint when the Red Bull driver pitted to try and undercut him.
But at the fast sweeping right-hander at Turn 11, Leclerc lost the rear of his Ferrari and spun off into the barrier, bringing his race to an immediate end.
It marked the third race this season Leclerc has retired from whilst leading, and gave Verstappen a trouble-free run to victory to extend his world championship lead.
Leclerc initially indicated a problem with his throttle had been the cause of his crash, but speaking after the race the Monegasque owned up to a mistake.
Having already lost valuable points through an error at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earlier this year, Leclerc’s latest mistake puts him 63 points behind Verstappen.
But while his title prospects have taken a hit after France, Binotto brushed off suggestions Leclerc is making too many on-track errors.
“I think it’s a bit of an unfair judgement,” Binotto said, aa quoted by Motorsport.com. “I think he was driving certainly at the limit. There are things that may happen when you’re driving to the limit.
“Why it happened, [we will see if] is there anything else, we take our time with him to discuss, and to judge, but at the moment there is no reason to blame him.
“I’m pretty sure he will learn. We have always seen that Charles is reacting very strongly and well to when he’s doing mistakes. And I’m pretty sure that he will be back in Hungary stronger and hungry.”
Binotto felt that despite Ferrari’s latest setback in its title bid, the team’s pace and tyre degradation was a positive to take from the weekend.
“It has been a good weekend in terms of pace, and the car has proved to be very competitive. I think Carlos’s [Sainz] race as well showed it,” he said.
“Charles got the pole. He was leading the race. I think we had an edge on the Red Bull in terms of tyre degradation by lap 15, and then Max had to stop.
“We could have extended the stint and we were extending the stint, looking at the time where Max stopped when he was starting suffering from tyre degradation.
“Charles was gaining two or three tenths per lap on him, proving once again that our car is great and gentle with tyre management.”
Binotto stressed that Ferrari’s attention will now turn Hungary rather than reflecting on its disappointment from Paul Ricard, as it looks to hit back with a much-needed victory.
“I think we come out from here, Le Castellet, with full confidence in our package, in our drivers’ capacity and our speed,” Binotto said.
“Lucky enough now, in a week’s time, we’ve got Hungary. It’s important for us to turn the page, to look forward. Hungary will be again very hot there and it will be again about tyre management, tyre degradation and tyre overheating, very similar to Le Castellet.
“So I will say there is plenty of reason why we need to smile, and be positive, because our objective going in to Hungary should be not for a winning, but a 1-2.”