Red Bull chief Helmut Marko has stated that Charles Leclerc was 'lucky' to finish the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, likening his fortune to Lewis Hamilton last season.
The Ferrari driver was on course for a podium finish and was charging down Sergio Perez for a potential second spot but an aggressive corner entry led to a spin, sending him into the barrier and imposing a significant dent on his championship lead.
Leclerc was, however, able to continue and made his way to the pits to change his front wing, which sustained damage in the incident, before overtaking three cars to clinch a sixth-placed finish at Imola – easing Ferrari's woes.
Max Verstappen's dominant performance across the weekend saw the defending champion take home maximum points, reducing Leclerc's lead at the top of the standings to 27 points – while Red Bull are now just 11 behind Ferrari in the Constructor's Championship.
The fallout for Ferrari at Imola could have been much worse had Leclerc been unable to finish, however, particularly as Carlos Sainz suffered a second retirement in a row after sustaining contact with McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo on the first lap.
While Sainz was unfortunate in that incident, Marko has suggested things may have evened themselves out by stating Leclerc was lucky to be able to finish – and referenced similar events for Hamilton last term.
“[The nerves] were already there on Friday in practice when he spun – but lucky, like Hamilton, unbelievable. He hits the ground and is able to continue. But that’s all right.”
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Red Bull look set for a fierce fight with Ferrari for both championships this season, with the Prancing Horse taking the place of Mercedes' as Red Bull's biggest rivals, but Marko believes the strength of Verstappen and Perez will be decisive.
“It was clear to us it [the title] was still open, but it’s very close. Ferrari are very strong and we must therefore continue to work at full speed. But we now have, above all, two very strong drivers. Perez is getting stronger, so from that point of view we are slightly optimistic about the future.”
Formula One heads to Miami for the circuit's maiden Grand Prix next on the calendar, which is followed by another break before the first double-header of the season in Barcelona and Monaco.
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