SUZUKA, Japan — Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc thought he was on his method to a podium on the Japanese Grand Prix after mistaking Sergio Perez’s retiring Crimson Bull for that of race-winner Max Verstappen.
Leclerc, who completed fourth simply over seven seconds behind Oscar Piastri’s McLaren in third, solely realised he was not in a podium place on the ultimate lap of the race.
Chatting with media at Suzuka after the chequered flag, Leclerc nonetheless appeared confused in regards to the race, apparently within the perception he had handed Verstappen on lap 14 when he had actually lapped Perez.
Perez’s Crimson Bull, which was concerned in a primary lap collision with Lewis Hamilton and later retired after a second collision with Kevin Magnussen, entered the pits on the finish of lap 14 throughout a Digital Security Automobile interval to retire the automobile, though he did emerge once more later within the race to serve a penalty.
“I noticed Max stopping on the Digital Security Automobile or after the Security Automobile, I do not know what occurred there, and I believed he wasn’t within the race anymore,” Leclerc stated as he continued to confuse Verstappen with Perez.
“So I believed I used to be doing a podium till the final lap the place I really seemed on the board and I used to be P4, however yeah, I imply, there have been actually robust.
“Max after all, we anticipated him to be robust. We anticipated Checo [Perez] additionally, however I do not know what occurred for him and the 2 McLarens, too.”
Requested if he thought he’d seen Verstappen sluggish on one of many massive screens across the monitor, Leclerc added: “No, he slowed down at one level no? Exit of flip 14.
“I feel it was the VSC, he mainly stopped on the left and all of us overtook him.”
When it was identified to Leclerc that it was actually Perez who he handed on lap 14, the penny dropped.
“Oh proper okay. That is what it was. I believed Max was out of the race at that second it was simply complicated for me.”