Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was unable to put up a fight against title rival Max Verstappen at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Monegasque could not get the momentum going after he was forced to make a very early unscheduled pit stop on Lap 3 when he noticed his front right tyre overheating.

The issue was apparently caused by a tear-off visor that got stuck in his brake duct, as explained to him over the radio as he left the pits. The Ferrari team is apparently convinced that the piece of plastic may have come off Verstappen's helmet.

Of course, this could not have been intentional on the part of the Dutch driver, who started directly in front of Leclerc. The pair found themselves starting from P14 and P15 after taking penalties for new engine components.

The reigning world champion was seen removing a tear-off visor at the end of the first lap, which was nothing unusual considering all the dirt that gets kicked up in the opening corners.

There was a collision between Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes and Fernando Alonso's Alpine, causing a lot of drivers behind them to take evasive action. Likewise, Valtteri Bottas also kicked up a lot of dirt when he was forced into the gravel.

Verstappen explained that he could barely see anything after all the commotion, and he had to tear-off a layer from his visor to remove the debris. Unfortunately, it may have ended up getting sucked into Leclerc's brake duct.

The Red Bull star revealed that he found out about what happened after Leclerc's teammate, Carlos Sainz, spoke to him after the race. "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 were all pulling stuff out."

Verstappen had a solid start and managed to work his way up to the front of the grid very easily. In contrast, Leclerc's early stop saw him getting stuck behind a DRS train. He had to spend several laps near the back of the grid before he eventually worked his way up to fifth place.

Unfortunately, a risky call to try to take the fastest lap of the race ended in Leclerc picking up a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He ended up being classified in P6 behind Fernando Alonso's Alpine after being slapped with the penalty.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said that penalty was also caused by a malfunction in the car's speed limiters, which also stemmed from the overheating problem. The Italian also did not hesitate to say that he felt the tear-off came from the Dutchman. "We were not using our normal sensors measuring the speed because they have been failed during the overheating of the front-right due to the tear-off of Max," he said, as quoted by

However, he added that it was an "unlucky situation" and did not put the blame on the Red Bull driver.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen celebrates his stunning Spa win POOL via AFP / ERIC GAILLARD