Charles Leclerc comments highlight how Max Verstappen decision will impact driving style

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Charles Leclerc believes he will have to ‘adapt his driving style’ following Max Verstappen’s controversial driving at the Brazilian Grand Prix was deemed legal by the FIA.

At last week’s race, title rivals Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were seen battling it out across the Sao Paulo track, before the Englishman looked to have been reared off the track by the 24-year-old.

With the seven-time world champion in second he looked to overtake his title rival for the lead on lap 48 on the outside, but was forced off the track as Verstappen looked to maintain his lead.

Mercedes were left outraged with the Red Bull driver, resulting in a steward’s enquiry as the drivers continued to the race, with a five-second penalty expected for the 24-year-old.

However the review provided inconclusive evidence for the race stewards, and Verstappen was allowed to continue to race without penalty, a decision that shocked many in the racing world.

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Despite the decision not going his way, Hamilton still managed to finally get past his opponent in the latter stages to cap off a quite remarkable victory in South America.

Even with the victory secured, Mercedes were still left unhappy with the Dutchman and thus filed an appeal against Verstappen – who if found guilty would incur a penalty at this week’s race in Qatar.

Following the row Ferrari star Leclerc told reporters that if the Red Bull racer’s actions were legal, he would have to think about adapting his own driving style.

He said: “If this is allowed, then overtaking around the outside will be very difficult.

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“But yeah, whatever the situation, the decision is, I’ll just adapt my driving to it, so I’m fine with both.”

He also revealed changing his style of driving following a steward’s decision is something that isn’t new to him, as he did just that following the Austrian Grand Prix in 2019.

Leclerc commented: “You always need to adapt to every situation, every decision the stewards are doing.As soon as I knew it wasn’t a penalty for Max in Austria [in 2019], I went to Silverstone and I changed my driving.

“So I think that’s a bit the same for every driver. We will always try to race at the limits of what we are allowed to do. And that’s what I will do in case these things are allowed.”

Since the 24-year-old’s comments Verstappen has been found not guilty of any offence, as Mercedes’ appeal was rejected after new presented evidence did not ‘fundamentally change the facts’.

Unsurprisingly Mercedes boss Toto Wolff seemed less than impressed with the decision.

He said: “If it stays that way, it means overtaking from the outside is pretty much not possible any more because the inside controls the corner completely. You can see some of the drivers have expressed the same opinion.

“It is really important to understand what’s on and what’s not on because we don’t want this championship to be decided by a controversial situation that ends up in the stewards’ room. That’s why now is the time to clarify the rules.”

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