Leclerc frustrated to miss Imola podium, explains Verstappen restart incident

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Charles Leclerc was left "frustrated" by fourth place after running in the podium places for much of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver moved up to third on the opening lap, capitalising on Sergio Perez running wide exiting the Variante Alta in the wet conditions at Imola.

But as the circuit dried up, Leclerc was a sitting duck for Lando Norris at the red flag restart and later watched Lewis Hamilton sail by, denying the Scuderia a first Italian podium since his win at Monza in 2019.

“I’m happy with the race, but at the same time a little bit frustrated,” he commented.

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“The first part of the race, we were very competitive and everything looked good. We took a bit of a gamble yesterday with the downforce to be a bit better if it was raining and it was the case.

"Unfortunately then with the red flag, all the cars were reshuffled and it repacked everyone, and then we started to be a bit vulnerable on the straights and we struggled to defend from the cars.”

Shortly before the restart, however, the Monegasque could have opted to overtake Max Verstappen for the lead, after the Dutchman half spun at Rivazza 1.

"I considered it at one point but at the same time I backed off," said Leclerc.

"I think, looking back at it, it was the right choice because I think he always had one wheel on the track so I backed off because he didn’t completely spin.

“I thought about it but it was too late and he was already back in front.”

Leclerc also revealed radio problems not only hesitated his decision not to pass the Red Bull but also contributed to his poor restart too, as Verstappen pulled away.

But Norris, the driver behind him, thinks the Ferrari driver should have gone for the lead.

“I had a great view of it – it’s quite funny,” he said. “I think Charles could’ve gone past, in my opinion.

“At that stage, Max was out of control and going left and Charles can’t just hit the brakes and slow down and stop, at some point he has to go past Max because he was facing the barrier for a lot of the corner.

“I dunno – we have to maybe ask the guys in charge what the exact ruling is.

“But going off track, then it’s all four wheels off track and the example of yesterday [when, in qualifying, Norris had a lap time good enough for P3 on the grid deleted for track limits at Piratella].

“But at the same time, Max was going very slow so it’s like Leclerc could’ve driven past him at that point.

“I’m not sure. If I was in P2 I think I would’ve gone for it because you have a chance of winning then. So, it’s a risk [that’s] worth it.”