The Monegasque driver was ahead early on in Paul Ricard, and with tire degradation better than his main rival Max Verstappen, he seemed to be in full control of things.
However, a lap 18 error sent him over to the crash barrier – forcing him to walk out immediately and opening the door for Verstappen for a win that further increased his championship lead.
Leclerc’s error in France comes on the heels of also losing valuable points in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, when he damaged his car after an accident at Variante Alta chicane when he was seeking second place.
He then managed to get the car back into the pits for repair before eventually recovering to finish sixth.
Both high-profile incidents cost Leclerc valuable tournament points, and now leave him in need of a drastic change in fortune if he is to properly take the fight to Verstappen for the remainder of the campaign.
But team principal Mattia Binotto denied any suggestion that Leclerc had a penchant for foul play.
“I think it’s a somewhat unfair ruling,” he said. “I think he was definitely driving at the max. There are things that can happen while driving to the max.
“Why did that happen, [we will see if] Is there anything else, we take our time with him to discuss and judge, but for now there is no reason to blame him.
“I am sure he will learn. We have always seen that Charles reacts very strongly and well when he makes mistakes. I am sure he will come back to Hungary stronger and hungry.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, crashes at Le Beausset
Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images
Binotto believes that based on the speed Ferrari showed over the weekend, allying with tire deterioration better for Leclerc early on, the win was there.
“It was a good weekend in terms of speed, and the car proved to be very competitive. I think Carlos [Sainz] It also showed race as well.
“Charles got the pole. He was leading the race. I think we had an advantage over Red Bull in terms of tire deterioration by lap 15, then Max had to stop.
“We could have extended the period, we would have extended the period, looking at the time Max stopped when he started having tire degradation.
“Charles was earning two or three tenths of a lap on it, which once again proves that our car is great and nice with tire management.”
Rather than dwelling on Paul Rijkaard’s disappointment, Binotto says the focus is now on responding in a new fashion in Hungary.
“I think we came out of here, Le Castellet, with complete confidence in our group, in the ability of our drivers and our speed.
“Lucky enough now, in a week, we have Hungary. It is important for us to turn the page and look forward. Hungary will again be very hot out there and again will be about tire management, tire degradation and tire overheating, Le Castellet style.”
“So I will say that there are a lot of reasons why we need to smile, be positive, because our goal in going to Hungary should not be to win, but to win 1-2.”