Robert Kubica, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

Leclerc says failure which cost him first win was “hard to take”

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc admitted the late-race MGU-H failure which cost him victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix was hard to take.

But the 21-year-old, who led an F1 race for the first time, vowed he and Ferrari will “come back stronger”.

The problem struck Leclerc with a dozen laps to go in the race and left him around 40kph down on his rivals on the straights. He was unable to prevent Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas overtaking him.

“[It’s] a very hard one to take,” said Leclerc. “But thanks to the team for the amazing car all weekend long. I’m pretty sure we’ll come back stronger.”

“It happens,” he added. “It’s part of motorsport. Unfortunately today was not our day but I’m confident.

“The team has done an amazing job recover lack of pace in Australia. And what to say. Of course I’m extremely disappointed like the whole team. But it happens.”

A late Safety Car allowed Leclerc to salvage third place. Without it he expects he would have finished even further back.

“I think we made the best out of it. I think we’ve been lucky in a very unlucky situation because we had the Safety Car at the finished because otherwise we would have finished even more rearward. Also I don’t think with the fuel we would have been OK.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 31 comments on “Leclerc says failure which cost him first win was “hard to take””

    1. What a heart breaking finish for Leclerc. Such is the life of a F1 driver.
      I wonder what Max thought when he saw that safety car ? :)

    2. Gutted for Leclerc, looked like a certain win. The passion on the radio during the problem was painful, but also commanded respect. Vettel has a tough challenge.

      1. Time for Little Schumacher to have a go?

        1. Not sure what all excitement about Mick Schumacher is, i really think he will end up being an average driver, the name doesn’t give him speed.

          1. People want attention and noise, not speed right now… They want to make noise so all the shortfallings are not discussed throughly

          2. He might make a good #2 to Leclerc.. but other than that.. you’re right… Schumi junior is no great shakes.

          3. Actually something of a puzzle. Ferrari are clearly fastlaneing him for a F1 Ferrari berth, but that (I’m starting to imagine) will be with Vettel’s retirement at the end of this season or next. And then what? He’ll be trounced by Leclerc. So what’s the point? It’s not going to add to the image of either Ferrari or the Schumacher dynasty. If they want a real story, hire Verstappen alongside Leclerc. Now that people would pay money to watch.

    3. Interesant last sentence from Charles- havent watched the entire race so I’m not sure what he meant by the part: “on fuel we also would not have been OK”

      1. @gechichan I assume that with the loss of the energy recovery and the power from the hybrid system, the engine’s maps were thrown off and the ICE was consuming more fuel than expected.

        1. @gechichan, @markzastrow Indeed, and besides that, there was no safety car until the end for the two Renault, and also not much opportunity to just turn it down and manage the race even before the problem. Mercedes had been very good on the mediums and had the pace to push them, so even under ideal circumstances and with no mistake from Vettel, they would have had to keep their pace up. For Leclerc to keep ahead of Bottas he would have had to squeeze every ounce, but he was already lifting and coasting because of fuel level. The SC was fortunate for him to stay ahead of Verstappen.

      2. I picked this too, i think they were short on fuel, but could have been the same for everyone.

      3. @gechichan – until that point when the Renaults failed, everyone had been racing hard, fighting for positions, etc. and there wasn’t too much opportunity for fuel saving. Also, no SCs or VSCs until the very end. Put together, a lot of cars would have been marginal on fuel come the end of the race.

        1. (@phylyp) indeed, but that applied to all the cars so they all would have to save fuel – the way he said it seemed to only be a problem with his car. But (@markzastrow) has a very good point a few comments above: due to MGU-H going bad the ICE had to consume more than usual or compared to others, hence the fuel issues.

          1. @gechichan – ah, that’s a good point. I think apart from the mapping being off, the driver would likely have also been pushing the ICE harder to compensate for the loss of power.

          2. @gechichan Yes, I would have thought that with a comfortable 8 second gap to Hamilton, without the MGU-H problem, he would have been the best-placed front runner to manage his fuel.

            But without the battery power providing the instant torque on throttle application, the ICE would have to be pulling all the weight out of the corners and consuming more fuel to get the same response.

            I also assumed that when the team came over the radio after the problem hit to tell him to follow whatever was on his dash—which he seemed unsure he could do—they were referring to hitting a fuel number, but I may be wrong on that.

            1. @phylyp You beat me to it. ;)

    4. Charles propbably could have had a Hamilton 07 season last year if he was in Ferrari. We know now that Ferrari were quicker although many already knew that. There were well over half the races that Ferrari was best. Vettel is not a good benchmark of how that Ferrari is. If vettel and Kimi was there still people would be moaning how Merc are still fastest. But no Vettel got carried to a 2nd place on the grid by his car. How can 4xWC be so much slower now in 2 races vs a second year guy. Proves what many knew all along…. Ham should have had no buisness winning the title last year but he did, never compare these 2 guys again.

      1. That’s crap and you know it. The Mercedes was more reliable last year and on balance, at least the equal fastest car of the season – especially at the end of the season. Vettel drove some brilliant races in 2018. Sure he had a few shockers, but perhaps he was trying to outdrive the car to gain some advantage. Also, look at Kimi in the Alfa – he’s putting that car in places that Leclerc put it last year, where Gio is currently nowhere, so he’s clearly no slouch either.

        It looks as though this year Ferrari have taken a step further compared to Mercedes. But again, Lewis’ race pace was close to the Ferraris, so maybe as always there is more to the story.

    5. He’ll need to learn from this. The engine is under the greatest stresses at the start and end of the race.
      10 laps to go, and he was still pushing when he could have been more conservative.

      1. He was lifting and coasting to meet the numbers, even with Bottas catching him up. Listen to his throttle at the end of the straights in the laps before Bottas caught him and the SC.

        1. @lunaslide, I would guess that what he is suggesting is that, in the laps leading up to his failure, Leclerc should have been easing off on his pace rather than pushing as hard as he was.

          The question would be whether he thought that he could afford to back off that much though, as Hamilton was still reasonably close to him. He probably did still need to push reasonably hard to maintain a reasonable lead – with the suggestions of MGU-H problems back in Australia and now the failure here, it sounds like this might be more of a case of Ferrari having a possible production or design issue with their current MGU-H.

      2. Well, as a rebuttal, this engine is to target 7 races, so going kaboom on race 2 makes it unlikely that the driver pushed it too hard. The only way one can inflict that sort of damage is in a vehicle with a manual transmission (e.g. downshift at high revs to overrun the engine), not a computer controlled system that will have safeguards built it.

        I’d hold off on blaming Charles’ driving for the engine issue at the moment, and will hear what Ferrari has to say is the reason.

    6. @kingshark you would have been saying Merc were still fastest if there were 2 Vettel level drivers in the car today. And going on about how easy Lewis has it and the sport is boring, just admit Vettel lost the title to a guy with a slower car. Vettel has not been able to show us the true potential of Ferrari these last years. Embarassing for a 4xWC.

    7. vowed he and Ferrari will “come back stronger”

      Well, I know you will come back stronger, Charles.

      I’m heartbroken for Leclerc, but also massively heartened – he didn’t put a step wrong today. Even after dropping a few places at the start, he swiftly and cleanly fought back, and took on a commanding lead.

      1. @phylyp
        My thoughts exactly.
        When he dropped to P3 at the start, I thought that the win was already gone for him. Then that move on Bottas happened, and then to the surprise of many, Ferrari let their drivers race. He absolutely blitzed Vettel.. and honestly, that’s when I realised that he’s going to be a contender this season.

        It was hard to see him lose the win in such a cruel manner, but I’m also glad to see that delivering on all the hype around him. That kids ready to fight for a championship.

    8. Last year I defended Vettel because at some times he did seem to not have luck on his side. But on this weekend he was so comprehensively beaten by Leclerc, that I don’t really know anymore if he does have it in him to guide Ferrari back to championship glory. He was thoroughly owned by his much junior teammate, and he looked awfully apathetic about it, even in his post-race interview he was so deflated… Boy oh boy, he is in for a long season. I’m curious to see how things will unfold over the next GP’s.

      1. @toiago – very true. As a Vettel fan, I tended to try and see last year favourably, but as the season wore on it became harder. And this year, Leclerc has quickly called Vettel’s performance into question, making me re-evaluate last year as well. I wish Leclerc well, and if his performances continue to be at this level, I want Ferrari to put their weight behind him.

    9. I’m deeply impressed by this guy. Understandably he was a bit distraught on the radio when it was all going wrong, but it took him only a lap or two to collect himself and deal with the issue, and at the end of the race he was already philosophical about it (“This is motorsport. Things happen.”) Given what he showed in F2, it’s not just for show but how he really is. His maturity also showed at the start when he got a pretty poor start. Instead of making a bad situation worse, he composed himself, got into his rhythm and found his pace, and retook the lead in short order. For a lot of drivers, losing those places at the start would be it. He’s got the same kind of grit as Hamilton and Riccardo, but he’s 21 years old. Looking forward to watching his career.

    10. I love Charles. Haven’t been his fan in junior categories, although he showed his immense talent very early, but something in his driving style didn’t really click with me. But since he graduated to F1 he just feels like a class act: quick, composed, aggressive but not over-the-top, fast-learning.

      Just hope he keeps it up. Also loved he dedicated the pole to his friend Jules Bianchi – they would have made a great lineup for Ferrari the next decade.

    11. Harder to take than Vettel’s Germany 2018 crash…

    12. Absolutely gutted for Charles, what a supreme drive.

      I think there is now absolutely no doubt that he will be one of the sport’s leading drivers for at least the next decade – he may not have won today, but he showed he absolutely has what it takes.

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