It is shaping up to be an interesting year of Formula 1 racing with plenty of rivalries holding firm, and plenty of the usual car and technology debates to be had.
One driver who is not enjoying a particularly good current run is Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
The 24-year-old Monegasque racer started the season in great form, winning two of the first three races to open up a then 46 point lead over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, but in recent meets what could go wrong for Leclerc has and there is now a 63 point deficit to Verstappen in the drivers’ championship standings.
Having won the Australian Grand Prix back in April a mix of bad luck, poor decision making and just complete mistakes have seen them continually drop points. Two full engine failures and two strategy errors whilst leading the pack have been very noticeable – such as the mistake at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that saw Leclerc fall from third place into sixth.
Having taken victory at the Austrian GP a few weeks ago to end a run of seven races without victory, it looked like Ferrari’s form had turned and that he would build on that momentum in France, but he pushed too hard once again and is now further adrift than ever.
For his own part in this, Leclerc has acknowledged his mistakes and he knows his performance at the French Grand Prix, where he ultimately crashed out at Turn 11, was ‘just not good enough’ – telling BBC Radio 5 Live.
“If I keep doing those mistakes then it is pointless to be performing at a very high level. I will try and get better but this is not good.”
Ferrari team principle Mattia Binotto did however back Leclerc to bounce back and he was expecting him to do just that when back on the track in Hungary.
“It was a genuine mistake of Charles which may happen and does not take off how good he is as a driver, he is a fantastic driver. What I said to Charles, things are more complicated but not impossible and we will enjoy it more if we can turn it into a victory at the end.
In a week’s time we have Hungary, important to turn the page and look forward. It will be hot and again about tyre management and overheating. So there is plenty of reason to smile so our objective should not be winning but a one-two.”
With ten races remaining before the sport takes a break, Leclerc clearly has a mountain to climb here in terms of being in the race for the championship and he knows it but by the time fans are again purchasing their Austrian GP Tickets, the story could be a lot different.
“I am performing at the highest level of my career. But if I keep doing those mistakes it is pointless. I am giving away too many points. Seven in Imola; 25 here because we were probably the strongest car on track. So if we lose the championship by 32 points at the end of the year, I will know where they are coming from and it is unacceptable.”
Despite his seven pole positions, his latest error has simply resparked the old debates about how error prone he can be, despite his obvious talent. Maybe he will have one eye on next season already, and a repeat performance in Austria.