A video from the Belgian Grand Prix’s opening lap shows that Charles Leclerc’s brake duct was clogged by Max Verstappen’s visor tear-off.
Verstappen began ahead of the Ferrari driver on the grid as the championship rivals started 14th and 15th place respectively in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
The reigning world champion had the better start in the race thanks to his positioning on the track. However, later in the first lap, his visor got some fluid from Lewis Hamilton’s damaged W13 as the British driver was involved in first-lap contact with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso at Les Combes.
Verstappen tore off his visor and hurled it to the side of his car and it appears that this was the visor that got caught in Leclerc’s front right brake cooling system.
The Ferrari driver had to pit for it to be taken out, which caused him to fall to the rear of the pack where he could only make it to P5. Leclerc’s woes did not end there as Ferrari pulled him in for a late stop in an effort to claim the fastest lap points, he dropped to sixth and was given a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Leclerc’s penalty, according to team principal Mattia Binotto, was actually the result of Verstappen’s visor damaging his Ferrari’s sensors.
“We were not using our normal sensors measuring the speed because they have failed during the overheating of the front-right due to the tear-off of Max and our recovery, maybe it was not such accurate,” Binotto said. “I think overall, it has been an unlucky situation.”
Leclerc failed to score the fastest lap point as that credit went to Verstappen, who won the race and also increased his advantage over his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Championship to 93 points. Leclerc dropped to third place and is now five points behind the leaders.
When asked about the claims that Leclerc’s problems were related to his visor during the post-race press conference, Verstappen responded, “Carlos told me it was a tear-off… I didn’t know… I hope it’s not mine, but there was a lot of stuff, honestly people…”
“They were all pulling stuff out and it’s just super unlucky, to be honest, that that happens.”
“You’re always scared that it happens, especially when you’re in the pack because… especially on a track like this, you are taking them off very quickly, that is your worst nightmare, that these things happen but yeah, unfortunately, they do happen.”