Max Verstappen spared no sympathy for Charles Leclerc after the Dutchman took advantage of a race-ending engine failure for his Ferrari Formula One rival to cruise to an unchallenged win in Azerbaijan on Sunday (June 5).
“I would say it happens, that’s racing, you know?” Verstappen, who experienced the heartbreak of crashing out of the lead in Baku last year, told reporters.
“It happened to me, it happened to many people in the past and unfortunately it’s happening to Charles.
“If I would be in the same situation, I would also be disappointed, I think that’s very normal, but it’s about how you come out of it.”
Verstappen’s win on Sunday, his fifth from eight races this season, allowed him to open up a commanding lead in the overall standings.
He is now 21 points ahead of Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez, who completed a one-two behind Verstappen on Sunday, with Leclerc 34 points adrift having dropped to third. The 24-year-old, who went into the weekend nine points behind Verstappen, has now failed to convert top spot into victory in the last four races in a row for reasons ranging from a lack of reliability to strategic missteps.
Sunday’s failure was the second time in three races that Leclerc had retired from the lead. It came shortly after team mate Carlos Sainz had also stopped with a hydraulic failure, resulting in a double retirement for Ferrari.
Verstappen has himself been sidelined twice by reliability woes this year and trailed Leclerc by 46 points after the opening three races of the season.
“You learn from it, you don’t like it, you are angry, but you turn it around,” he said.
“You always have to stay on it because something else might happen and you have to prevent these issues from happening.”