Charles Leclerc blames the untimed safety car for his Las Vegas GP loss to Max Verstappen

The safety car was triggered by Max Verstappen's collision with George Russell.

Charles Leclerc blames the untimed safety car for his  Las Vegas GP loss to Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc (Via IMAGO)

In a thrilling showdown at the inaugural Las Vegas GP, Charles Leclerc settled for second place as Max Verstappen clinched his 18th win of the season, and he is not hesitant to pinpoint the culprit – the Safety Car. Leclerc, who had shown remarkable prowess throughout the race, expressed his conviction that victory was within grasp had it not been for the untimely appearance of the Safety Car.


Leclerc lamented, underlining the crucial role this unexpected twist played in the race’s outcome, saying, “I really believe that without the Safety Car, the win was ours.” The Monegasque driver, who had initially lost the lead to Max Verstappen but regained it during the first stint, had been on course for a potential victory. 

The turning point came when the Safety Car was deployed shortly after half-distance following Verstappen’s clash with George Russell, prompting strategic decisions from the teams. Ferrari opted to keep Leclerc out on the track while competitors, including Verstappen, chose to pit. Charles pitted just only two laps before the safety car and thus opted to try out for track position. 

It’s always easy to say ‘I have only done five laps.’ On the other hand, I didn’t know what Max and Checo will do behind me. If they wouldn’t have stopped, then being behind two Red Bulls will have been difficult to pass them. Now I would have stopped, but now I know what they have done so it’s too easy to say. 
Leclerc explained as reported

Charles Leclerc believes that second is the best the team could do after the safety car

The decision not to pit ultimately had repercussions for Leclerc, as he struggled to maintain the lead with older tires after the Safety Car period. Verstappen and Sergio Perez, having made pit stops, managed to overtake him. Despite reporting tire fading towards the end, Leclerc showcased a masterclass, regaining the second position from Perez on the final lap.

Charles Leclerc, second on the podium
Charles Leclerc, second on the podium at the Las Vegas GP (Credits: Motorsport Week)

Leclerc recognized the limitations of the strategic choices made during the race. He acknowledged the fierce competition, emphasizing the challenging nature of the race and the enjoyment derived from the intense battles on the track.

Leclerc’s sentiments about the impact of the Safety Car resonated throughout the post-race discussion, with the Ferrari driver expressing his belief that the win slipped through his fingers due to circumstances beyond his control. Despite the disappointment of not clinching the top spot, Leclerc found solace in the overall spectacle of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The rollercoaster of emotions, strategic decisions, and on-track battles made the Las Vegas Grand Prix a memorable chapter in the F1 calendar, even if victory eluded Leclerc on this occasion.

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