Charles Leclerc is feeling the pain of his DNF from the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and admits he cannot find the right words to describe how he feels.
Formula 1 Championship contender Charles Leclerc retired from the lead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday as Ferrari suffered a double blow to their title hopes.
The Monegasque, who had started from pole for the sixth time in eight races and fourth in a row, pulled into the pits with a smoking engine at the end of the 20th lap. Ferrari confirmed the power unit was the problem.
Leclerc had lost out at the start to Red Bull’s Sergio Perez but regained the lead through the pitstops.
It was Leclerc’s second retirement from three races and came after Spanish team mate Carlos Sainz pulled off the track with a hydraulic failure on lap 10 in his third retirement of the campaign.
Ferrari’s double failure handed the lead to Red Bull’s World Champion Max Verstappen, who went into the race with a nine-point lead over Leclerc. Perez was running second.
“It hurts, we really need to look into that for it to not happen again. I don’t really find the right words to describe this,” Leclerc told Sky Sports F1. “It’s very, very disappointing.
Ferrari problems are increasing as the season progresses
“We’ve been fast and we didn’t have particularly big problems in the first part of the season,” he went on. “Now it seems that we have a bit more compared to the beginning but we didn’t change massive things. It’s difficult to understand for now but we will have to analyse.”
Reflecting on the race with F1’s official website, Leclerc added: “The first stint in the beginning, we weren’t particularly strong.
“Towards the end of the stint on the medium I was catching back Checo [Perez] and then obviously there was the VSC [Virtual Safety Car], and we decided to take that opportunity to pit, and I think it was the right choice.
“We were in the lead of the race, I was managing the tyres well, we just had to manage the tyres and the race till the end, which I think was… we were definitely in the best position possible to do that.
“Another DNF – it hurts… We really need to look into that for it to not happen again,” the Ferrari driver insisted.
Leclerc could not say how the failure might affect his engine allocation for the rest of the season, with grid penalties for exceeding the number permitted.