Charles Leclerc cannot afford costly mistakes if he wants title – Nico Rosberg

The championship leader finished sixth at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after a spin.

By Press Association Published: 24 April 2022 - 7.33pm

Nico Rosberg says Charles Leclerc can ill-afford any more mistakes if he wants to beat Max Verstappen to the world championship.

Leclerc fluffed his lines at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix when he ran over the kerbs at the Variante Alta and slid backwards into the barrier as he chased second-placed Sergio Perez.

Leclerc recovered to the pit lane for a new front wing, emerging in ninth before passing Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel and Yuki Tsunoda to finish in sixth place.

But Verstappen, who took pole position before winning Saturday’s sprint race and then claiming the fastest lap en route to a commanding lights-to-flag victory on Sunday, has reduced the championship deficit to Leclerc from 46 points – before the weekend – to 27.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, said: “Charles Leclerc, oh my God, if you are fighting for a title against Max Verstappen you just cannot allow yourself to spin out when you are driving on your own.

“Yes, he was hunting down Perez, but the pressure was on Perez, not on Charles, so to spin like that, my goodness, he has to avoid that for the rest of the season if he wants to win the championship.

Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg won the F1 title in 2016 (David Davies/PA)

“He just went in way too fast. He was pretty lucky not to have more damage.”

Leclerc’s spin was the first major mistake of his championship bid.

It capped a disappointing weekend for Ferrari on home soil after Carlos Sainz beached his car following a coming together with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap.

“He has to avoid that for the rest of the season if he wants to win the championship.”
- Nico Rosberg

“It is a big shame,” said Leclerc. “The spin should not have happened today. Third was the best I could do, we didn’t have the pace for much more, but I was too greedy.

“I paid the price for it and lost seven potential points. Seven points that could be valuable at the end of the championship. This shouldn’t happen again.”

Verstappen’s victory was the perfect tonic for his retirement in Melbourne a fortnight ago.

Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen (left) and Sergio Perez
Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen (left) and Sergio Perez finished first and second (David Davies/PA)

He said: “To have a weekend like this is just incredible. It was a very lovely Sunday. It was more or less a perfect weekend. Everything went well for us and it’s a great boost.

“Today was all about judging the conditions, making the right calls and staying very focused and we did that very well.”

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