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Leclerc frustration as controversial ending denies Verstappen battle

Leclerc frustration as controversial ending denies Verstappen battle

F1 News

Leclerc frustration as controversial ending denies Verstappen battle

Leclerc frustration as controversial ending denies Verstappen battle
Ewan Gale

Charles Leclerc has expressed his frustration over the handling of the late-race safety car period at the Italian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver finished second to Max Verstappen after two-stopping from pole position at Ferrari's home race at Monza.

Verstappen was coasting to a comfortable victory on a one-stop strategy before Daniel Ricciardo's late engine issue triggered a safety car.

That allowed Leclerc to fit a fresh set of soft tyres and close up to the back of the championship leader who had also made another stop.

But despite five laps to organise a restart, Ricciardo's car took too long to clear and by the time safety car protocols had taken place to ensure the leader was picked up and lapped cars could be released, time ran out.

The scenario opposed the controversial ending to last year's championship battle in Abu Dhabi, with the rulebook followed precisely on this occasion.

Nevertheless, a chorus of boos rang out around the circuit on the cool-down lap and during the podium ceremony, with >jeers also directed towards Verstappen during his post-race interview.

Reflecting on the finish behind the safety car, Leclerc said: "The end was frustrating. I wish we could have ended up racing.

"But, unfortunately, we were second at that place because of what happened before. It is a shame, I gave it all I had today.

"I wish I could have won in front of the amazing Tifosi we have here but I just couldn't today."

Leclerc unhappy after another questionable strategy

Leclerc had lost track position with an earlier-than-planned switch to medium tyres under virtual safety car conditions when Sebastian Vettel stopped on lap 12 in his Aston Martin.

Ferrari opted to switch to a two-stop strategy, effectively extinguishing hopes of a victory.

Asked if the decision to stop early was forced by a need to offset Red Bull's plans, Leclerc replied: "To be honest, we didn't know what we were going to do behind so we took that choice."

On whether he was happy with the strategy, Leclerc added: "Well, obviously, we finished P2 so I am not extremely happy with the race so we will work on that."

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