Verstappen tear-off blamed for Leclerc brake problem
Condemned, with Max Verstappen, to start the Belgian Grand Prix in the soft underbelly of the peloton, Charles Leclerc had to do it twice to climb into the top 10. Ninth at the time of the Safety Car exit , the Ferrari driver dropped to 17th after an unplanned pit stop on lap three.
Leclerc was forced to return to his pits when he noticed that smoke was coming from his right front tire. And the culprit was identified during the stop: a tear-off (protective film of the visor) stuck in its brake scoop and preventing the flow of air from cooling the disc.
Once Leclerc left, Ferrari investigated to find who owned the tear-off. “I hope it’s not mine, there was a lot [de tear-offs]”Verstappen told Motorsport.com. “[Les pilotes] were all pulling stuff out and to be honest, it’s just super unlucky that it happened. We are always afraid of that happening, especially when we are in the peloton because, especially on a track like this, we take them off very quickly. It’s our worst nightmare but, unfortunately, it happens.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, in the pits
But Verstappen is indeed the culprit. Both drivers’ on-board cameras showed that following Lewis Hamilton’s accident, which sprayed fluids on the track while trying to return to the pits, many drivers were forced to clean their visors. In front of Leclerc, Verstappen removed his protection and it found itself on the road to the Monegasque.
“It was super intense and [il y avait] so much land [sur la piste] too. I removed a tear-off because I couldn’t see almost anything, just because of the previous sector, as if everyone had gone into the grass, into the gravel, but we survived without damage”Verstappen said of the first lap.
Forced to stop in the first kilometers and put on an offbeat race strategy, Leclerc was also penalized because of Verstappen’s tear-off. The overheating of the brakes caused by the protection damaged the sensors used to measure the speed in the pits. As a result, Ferrari had to deal with less precise data, and the Monegasque was “flashed” during his last stop, then penalized by five seconds.
Interview by Matt Kew
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