Charles Leclerc will want to forget the 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, and quickly. But he shouldn’t put it behind him too rapidly, because there’s a thorny lesson that must be fully digested first.
You could tell from his face on Sunday, then the sack-cloth-and-ashes comments later, that the man carrying Ferrari’s hopes of ending a Formula 1 title drought dating back to 2007 knew how badly he had blundered by spinning out of third place at Imola.
Unforced errors… there’s nothing more aggravating, and the worst thing is you have no one else to blame but yourself. This was definitely one of those.
Red Bull was untouchable at the weekend as Max Verstappen scored a glorious ‘grand slam’ – pole, win, fastest lap – and on this occasion a sweet victory too in the first sprint race of the season.
The reigning champion had lost out to Leclerc at the start on Saturday, only to pass the Ferrari without too much stress, tipping a spoonful of added sugar to his increasingly tasty brew. Then on Sunday, he was in a class of his own.
Leclerc was worried and depressed by Red Bull’s superiority, but perhaps he should shrug that off too. This is already looking like a season in which form will swing from race to race, and Ferrari will likely bounce back.
But if Leclerc wants to be champion against a peer who hasn’t yet peaked, he needs to sort the unforced errors, and now.
Instead of third, Leclerc finished sixth, having dropped to ninth to replace the damaged nose of his F1-75. That’s seven points chucked away in a race where Verstappen swung from a 45-point deficit to a shortfall of just 27. Painful.