Charles Leclerc savages Mercedes with cheeky one-liner to George Russell

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Charles Leclerc has hit back at Mercedes by joking that F1 bosses should get a Ferrari to be the safety car as it would be faster than a Silver Arrows. The debate started after reigning champion Max Verstappen attacked Aston Martin’s safety car after the Australian Grand Prix.

He suggested the car was too slow and branded the 500bhp V8 Vantage as a “turtle”. Responding in the post-race press conference, George Russell said: “We don’t have the issue with the Mercedes-AMG safety car!

“The Mercedes Safety Car is five seconds faster than the Aston Martin Safety Car.” Leclerc then quickly responded: “Let’s put a Ferrari Safety Car, then it will be five seconds faster than a Mercedes.”

Mercedes has been the manufacturer behind F1’s safety cars since 1996. The German manufacturer was the sole provider of the cars until the 2021 season when the duty was split with Aston Martin.

The new Mercedes AMG GT Black Series was introduced for the new 2022 season and has around 730bhp. However, Aston Martin’s Vantage safety car was in action in Melbourne, prompting a fierce reaction from drivers.

Leclerc also attacked the Vantage, even highlighting safety concerns as drivers were struggling to get heat into their tyres. The Monegasque claimed he was tempted to report the incident to the stewards but realised there was not much more safety car driver Bernd Maylander could do.

He said: “To be honest it always feels too slow in the car because with those Formula 1 cars, we have so much grip and it’s very, very difficult, especially on the compound we were all on, which was the hards.

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“I was struggling massively to put some temperature in them, so I also struggled. To be honest, I wanted to complain, but then I checked how much the safety car was sliding in the corner and I don’t think there was anything more that he could give so I didn’t want to put too much pressure.

“For sure with the cars that we have now it’s very difficult to keep the temperatures in the tyres behind the safety car.” However, Verstappen threw his weight behind the Mercedes car, claiming it was faster due to the extra aero.

He added: “It’s pretty terrible the way we are driving behind the safety car at the moment.”

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