Max Verstappen says it is clear there was no intent from Charles Leclerc to protect his pole position by causing a red flag at the Monaco Grand Prix, joking he’s crashed at the same place twice.
Leclerc clipped the inside barrier at the second part of the Swimming Pool, damaging his right-front suspension and going straight into the wall on the exit. The error came with the Monegasque on provisional pole position but struggling to improve while Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz were on quicker laps, but the Red Bull driver says the rules shouldn’t be changed to penalize a driver who might benefit from making a mistake in that fashion.
“I think there is a difference when a guy makes a mistake and hits the wall, or doing it intentionally,” Verstappen said. “I think had Charles just parked with a broken front wing, it’s a different story. But of course he just clipped the wall, initially, and then ended up where I’ve ended up twice!
“So, it’s just unfortunate. Of course, I’m disappointed to not have a shot at pole but that’s life. Sometimes you can’t do it. It’s fine. I don’t think his lap should have, or should be deleted in the future if possibly they want to make rule changes. I don’t think that would be fair because we’re all trying so hard and it’s not so easy around here, especially on the limit. It’s easy to make a mistake.”
Despite that support for Leclerc, Verstappen admits he felt like he was set for pole position on his final attempt before the red flag came out.
“It was unfortunate with the red flag, because I felt really comfortable in qualifying, just building up to it. I think nobody was really putting a lap time on the first lap and that’s how we basically planned it out, to do two laps and then your third lap was the fastest. It was all going really well but of course the red flag ruined the chance for pole. We’ll see. Nevertheless, so far I think a very good weekend. We recovered well from Thursday, so not too bad.”
Verstappen had high praise for Red Bull after turning things around following a less competitive Thursday than expected, with Lewis Hamilton qualifying seventh after failing to produce a similar recovery.
“I think everyone back at the factory and here at the track, they did an amazing job to basically give me the car I wanted. Because, we were quite far out on Thursday, which I didn’t expect, I really felt from the start, just with the characteristics of our car, really from the whole year, it should be quite good around here, but luckily we found it today.”