Lewis Hamilton won a record-tying seventh Formula One title on Sunday after taking home the Turkish Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc was running second until he locked a wheel on the antepenultimate turn and let two cars past. I still am not quite over Leclerc’s subsequent meltdown on the radio.
You can find video of the mistake at around 5:44 of the highlights on YouTube, which I would embed here except Formula One doesn’t let its YouTube videos play on other websites.
More dramatic than the mistake, though, was Leclerc’s reaction. “You did a good job. Really good job,” someone calmly tells Leclerc after he’s crossed the line. He disagrees.
The combination of shame, humiliation, and anger in the beginning eventually gives way to through-gritted-teeth congratulations of Vettel, which you get the sense was the real humiliation. Leclerc knows he should have been on that podium; instead it was his teammate, whose ass Leclerc has spent the season kicking. Leclerc is currently fifth in the drivers’ standings; Vettel is 13th.
I remember seeing this clip Sunday and recoiling a bit at the Leclerc’s vulnerability and passion, so late in the season and with the championship race over; when I saw some fresh comments from Vettel about Thursday on Formula1.com, I watched it again and it had the same effect. Here’s what Vettel said:
“Probably irrelevant, to be honest. Turkey is a special place for me because it’s where everything started. It’s probably not where everything ends but still I think, looking back to many many years ago, I think having Charles as a team mate, I often see myself in him as well.
“He’s a lot younger, he’s very quick and I think the fact that - I haven’t had the chance to talk to him yet – but I will tell him later that being on the podium or not actually is a bit irrelevant for him because he has so many years ahead of him and so many podiums to come, which I’m sure of.
That the podium is irrelevant is easy to say when you are on it; Leclerc’s first chance to make up for everything won’t come until Bahrain on November 29.