Motor racing: Leclerc accepts he was to blame for Verstappen collision

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (behind) collides with Ferrari's Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (front) after the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Oct 13, 2019.
Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (behind) collides with Ferrari's Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (front) after the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Oct 13, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

SUZUKA (REUTERS) - Ferrari's Charles Leclerc has accepted blame for a collision with Red Bull's Max Verstappen that wrecked both drivers' Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday (Oct 13).

The 21-year-old Monegasque finished sixth but was demoted to seventh after collecting time penalties for the collision and continuing with a damaged car, while Verstappen retired from engine partner Honda's home race.

The Dutchman had accused Leclerc in the immediate aftermath of "irresponsible" driving.

Leclerc said initially it was a "tricky situation" but later recognised his mistake.

"I had a poor start. I got a little bit distracted," he told reporters.

"I was on the inside and being behind Seb (Vettel) and Lewis (Hamilton), I lost a little bit the front (of the car)," he explained.

"Normally you need to anticipate those things and I didn't. So I'm the one to blame."

The race was won by Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, with the Finn's teammate and driver's championship leader Hamilton third.

Leclerc and Verstappen are both now mathematically ruled out of title contention with only the Mercedes drivers still in the running.

 

Hamilton leads Bottas by 64 points with four races remaining.