Why Leclerc crash conspiracy theories make no sense

Charles Leclerc’s crashed Ferrari Formula 1 car had barely stopped moving before conspiracy theories began flying around social media about it being a deliberate accident.

Listen to this article

For having taken the top grid spot for the Monaco Grand Prix after the first runs in Q3, and well aware of the risk that he could get shuffled down the order as faster cars behind him came through, there was no more sure-fire way to ‘stop the count’ than bring qualifying to an early conclusion.

However, the reality is that while Leclerc was the biggest winner from his red flag incident, it is certainly a step too far to think that he hit the barriers like that on purpose.

For just as racing drivers are master judges at balancing risks and rewards when it comes to brushing barriers or racing rivals, they equally know that smashing your car up deliberately at the end of qualifying is something only a lunatic would do.

That is especially true in the era where gearboxes cannot be changed without incurring a grid penalty, and any semi-fast crash into the barriers throws up the real potential for damage.

So, if there had been any intention from Leclerc to halt qualifying, he certainly would not crash at a section of track where there is scope for the kind of side impact that F1 gearboxes simply cannot withstand.

Had Leclerc wanted to deliberately wreck the qualifying efforts of the cars behind, there were plenty of other ways of doing it that wouldn’t have required a big crash.

He wouldn’t even need a red flag either, as a double-waved yellow is enough these days for drivers to have to abandon their qualifying efforts.

Monaco has history of drivers having much less spectacular moments that turned out to influence the pole battle.

The most famous was in 2006, when Michael Schumacher, in similar circumstances of being fastest at that point, locked up a wheel on the entry to Rascasse and clumsily managed to get his car in a position that wrecked the chances of main rival Fernando Alonso completing his lap.

While Schumacher pleaded his innocence about it being done deliberately, the race stewards did not believe him and he was thrown to the back of the grid.

In 2014, Nico Rosberg caused controversy when he had a moment under braking for Mirabeau and ended up going down the escape road – bringing out the yellow flags.

Rival Lewis Hamilton behind him on track had to back off and immediately suspected foul play – telling the Mercedes pit wall over team radio that it was ‘very good’ of Rosberg to have done that to secure pole.

The FIA stewards did look into the incident but, after examining telemetry and video evidence, they gave Rosberg the all-clear as they did not find anything that suspected foul play.

Read Also:

For Leclerc, if there had been a split-second decision to do something nefarious, then a lock up and a slow speed skid down an escape road or a brush against the barriers, would have been the much more obvious thing to have done.

Smashing the suspension up and facing the real danger of losing pole position thanks to a gearbox penalty is not something you choose to do.

Max Verstappen, who reckoned he was on a pole lap before the red flags came out, did not see grounds to suspect Leclerc of foul play.

The Red Bull driver said: “I think there is a difference when a guy makes a mistake and hits the wall, or doing it intentionally. I think had Charles just parked with a broken front wing, it’s a different story.”

Leclerc himself concurred that if he had wanted to do something to bring out the red flags, then a high speed crash was not it.

“I can tell you that if it was done on purpose, I would have done it a lot more cleverly and not gone at full speed into [the barrier] and risking breaking the gearbox,” he said. “So, no, it was definitely not on purpose.”

Ultimately for Leclerc, as Ferrari begins its detailed inspection of his gearbox this morning to see if it needs replacing, the crash could yet turn out to be the thing that actually cost him, rather than secured him, pole position.

shares
comments

Related video

Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – How to watch, start time & more
Previous article

Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – How to watch, start time & more

Next article

The ulterior motive behind Mercedes' F1 engineering talent stockpile

The ulterior motive behind Mercedes' F1 engineering talent stockpile
Load comments
The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight Prime

The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight

The Toleman TG184 was the car that could, according to legend, have given Ayrton Senna his first F1 win but for Alain Prost and Jacky Ickx at Monaco in 1984. That could be stretching the boundaries of the truth a little, but as STUART CODLING explains, the team's greatest legacy was in giving the Brazilian prodigy passed over by bigger outfits an opportunity

Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes Prime

Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes

Two famous manufacturer teams born out of humble midfield origins, splashing the cash while attempting to rise to the top of F1 in record time. There are clear parallels between Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin and the doomed Jaguar Racing project of 22 years ago, but Mark Gallagher believes struggling Aston can avoid a similar fate.

Formula 1
May 15, 2022
How rejuvenated Haas recovered its F1 mojo Prime

How rejuvenated Haas recovered its F1 mojo

US-owned but until recently Russian-backed, Haas seems to have reached a turning point in car performance after three gruesome seasons. And it needs to if it’s to attract fresh investment. Team boss Gunther Steiner tells Oleg Karpov how close Haas came to the abyss.

Formula 1
May 14, 2022
How F1 race leaders have now lost their comfort blanket Prime

How F1 race leaders have now lost their comfort blanket

As Formula 1 teams have settled down in understanding the new generation of cars and the way they need to maximise their performance, fresh lessons have emerged. Jonathan Noble investigates how they have brought with them an all-new kind of grand prix racing

Formula 1
May 12, 2022
Gilles Villeneuve's 10 greatest F1 drives Prime

Gilles Villeneuve's 10 greatest F1 drives

Formula 1 lost one of its brightest stars when Gilles Villeneuve was killed during practice for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. Forty years on, Motorsport.com picks out the greatest drives by a Ferrari legend

Formula 1
May 11, 2022
The silver lining of Ferrari’s Miami GP defeat Prime

The silver lining of Ferrari’s Miami GP defeat

OPINION: Much was made of Formula 1’s first Miami Grand Prix – what turned out to be a very ‘marmite’ event for both those in attendance and everyone following on TV. But even as the on-track battle between Red Bull and Ferrari it produced continued the negative run of results for the red team, it contained a glimmer it must hope continues to shine

Formula 1
May 11, 2022
How imperfect Miami offered F1's drivers a unique challenge Prime

How imperfect Miami offered F1's drivers a unique challenge

OPINION: Despite all of the stylistic embellishments festooning Formula 1's inaugural Miami Grand Prix, the Miami International Autodrome offered the drivers a unique challenge and punished driver errors; a stark contrast to the usual cast of modern-day circuits

Formula 1
May 10, 2022
Why F1’s turbulent relationship with Russia is nothing new Prime

Why F1’s turbulent relationship with Russia is nothing new

Russia’s involvement in Formula 1 has been big on promise but short on delivery – then reached the end of the road prematurely. MARK GALLAGHER investigates why

Formula 1
May 10, 2022