Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022

“We can’t afford this to happen too many times” says Leclerc after retiring from lead

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc said Ferrari cannot afford more repeats of the failure which cost him a potential victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver led the race from pole position until a suspected power unit problem put him out shortly before half-distance.

“I don’t know anything more than what happened, basically,” Leclerc told Sky while the race continued. “I had no indication before and it just broke and then lost the power completely. It’s a shame.”

Despite the retirement, which cost him the lead of the championship to eventual winner Max Verstappen, Leclerc said Ferrari can be satisfied by the performance of their car.

“In those moments I believe that there’s nothing else I can do apart from looking at the positives,” he said. “And there are plenty this weekend.

“There’s the qualifying pace, the race pace and most importantly the tyre management. That has been a weakness in the last few races, I think we definitely found something this weekend on that. So it gives me the confidence for the rest of the season.

“But, on the other hand, we’ll look at this issue and we cannot afford for this too happen many times during the season. So we need to find the problem.”

Having led the championship since the start of the season, Leclerc will arrive at his home race in Monaco next weekend in second place. “But that’s fine,” he said, “I’m not looking at it.

“I think what is the most important is the overall performance and, performance-wise, we are performing very well. So I can’t wait to go home next week and hopefully we’ll have a great result.”

Ferrari said they will take the engine back to their base at Maranello for inspection to identify why it failed.

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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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48 comments on ““We can’t afford this to happen too many times” says Leclerc after retiring from lead”

  1. At the risk of being obtuse, that’s still Leclerc 1 – 2 Verstappen when it comes to technical retirements.

    1. Did Max retire from the lead?
      Last chance of a Ferrari win is Monaco.

      1. Last chance?

    2. But in terms of points impact it is 32-36. Almost nothing when it is race 22 or 22 in Abu Dhabi.

      1. Points impact? We’ll never know what Verstappen would have finished today, but assuming it was second, then that’s not 32-36

        1. It is. Assuming Verstappen would have finished 2nd, he inherited 1st resulting in 7 points gain to him and 25 loss to Charles.

          Assuming Verstappen would have finished 3rd without Charles retirement (highly unlikely), then the net impact of Charles’ retirement would have been 35 points.

          When Verstappen retired, he was already 2nd and Charles was 1st. So the only impact was Verstappen’s points loss, that is 36 points

          1. Yes, agree with this, some people find it strange when we talk about losing 32 points from a single race, but when you retire from the lead the your opponent is 2nd that’s the impact, so indeed, there’s not a significant difference now in terms of points lost through unluck, rest is about car and driver, I believe both are driving very well.

  2. This is why Leclerc will loose the championship.

    He is nowhere near as unhappy when this kind of thing happens.

    To be world champion you need to have an obsessive determination to win at all costs – nothing else will do.

    1. someone or something
      22nd May 2022, 16:35

      Yes, this. As we all know, there is no better way to improve an engine’s reliability than the driver being really angry at it.

      1. Electroball76
        22nd May 2022, 16:43

        It worked for the Honda engine! Everyone was angry with that thing and now it’s flying.

        1. Ahah, true!

      2. It puts extra pressure on his team to sort things out.

        1. Didn’t work with Alonso and Honda.

          1. The RedBull issues this year are all minor and fixable ones as the engine is strong. Alonso’s Honda engine was just weak.

      3. Good point !

        However I would expect him to at least be more frustrated. In one of the earlier races this year he seemed quite happy to have been beaten by Verstappen.

        I just think he is too relaxed, happy with the improvements in the team. This may be his only chance to be champion.

        1. Why would it be his only chance? He’s in contention to be the best driver atm in f1, as long as the car is competitive he has a shot every season.

  3. I’m going to be honest, I was happy to see it happen. First Verstappen has had worse already this season so it evens out better. But second, I thought Leclerc had been too content to accept being passed by Max at recent races, comfortable with his championship lead. We want to see a fight on track. Ferrari seem to be drifting backwards with Mercedes improving and eating into their points (Sainz being lucky that Mercedes underfueled both drivers, allowing him to retake 4th). That’s not to say Leclerc ‘deserved’ the DNF, much the opposite, his qualifying and race start were exceptional this weekend.

    1. ” lucky that Mercedes underfueled both drivers” — interesting theory, is this official? Do you have a source?

      Personally I would sooner blaim the slim pod cooling system being tested to its current limits, [or the Racing Gods deciding Hamilton was doing too well ;]

      I hope one of the pundits at least ask the question. Fuel or Cooling ?

      1. Well, the low fuel issue was stated as the reason on the F1TV commentary (with Jolyn Palmer). Not sure about an official source. The shots then panned to Wolff looking p*ed off with Hamilton having to cede back the place.

      2. someone or something
        22nd May 2022, 16:42

        The underfuelling theory makes no sense, because that doesn’t suddenly become a problem, but can be spotted after the first handful of laps. And if you can see a problem like that coming, it makes no sense to have the drivers push for 60 laps and then tell them to back off radically, even if it costs them positions. That’s not how optimisation works, the only sensible approach in such a situation would be to demand fuel-saving from the earliest stages, because that’s how you minimise the time loss over a race distance. If you start lifting & coasting, say, 100 metres before the braking zone, you can save quite a bit of fuel without losing more than a few hundredths. But if you have to do more than that, you get diminishing returns and lose painful chunks of lap time.
        In other words, overheating is the only explanation that makes sense.

        1. You’re not factoring the possibility that Mercedes expected at least one SC. That was the explanation given on the F1TV commentary that reported fuel saving as the reason Hamilton slowed down. Whether that was a good call – anticipating a SC – at Barcelona is another question. Seems strange given the huge amounts of run-off area, wide track and the fact Barcelona isn’t an especially collision-prone circuit.

          1. someone or something
            22nd May 2022, 17:30

            You’re not factoring the possibility that Mercedes expected at least one SC.

            Quite right, or rather, I actively chose to factor it out because that’d be a bit like gambling on an abundance of DRS passes in Monaco: Highly unreasonable, because no only is it not very likely to pay off*, but even in the event it does pay off, the gain is not very significant.
            *There were 6 or 7 Spanish GP with Safety Car appearances, if I remember correctly. And they’re typically for first-lap incidents (e.g. in 2016 and 2018); appearances during the race are exceedingly rare.

            And then again, the lack of Safety Car appearances isn’t something that suddenly happens. Even if Mercedes had no prior knowledge of the Circuit de Catalunya’s Safety Car history, they could see that this was evolving into a pretty normal Spanish GP, with cars typically at least a couple of seconds apart, and on-track battles almost exclusively happening at the end of the main straight, further limiting the potential for accidents.
            Suddenly waking up to the fact that this unreasonable gamble isn’t just unlikely to work, but about to backfire catastrophically, after 90% of the race distance – that’s not something I would even remotely consider plausible in Mercedes’ case. In amateur racing, with a handful of enthusiasts running operations, maybe. But not in a team like that, in a sport like that.

            I think it’s much more likely that Palmer came up with that hypothesis in the heat of the moment, when he was too busy to think about it for a second and see all the red flags it raises.

          2. @someoneorsomething OK, but Hamilton was told to save fuel right at the end, losing 4th place to Sainz. So what’s your alternative explanation if it wasn’t actually an underfueling issue?

          3. @someoneorsomething Seems like you may be right, it’s now reported that Hamilton had a water leak (the RaceFan reports are conflicting too tbh).

          4. someone or something
            23rd May 2022, 0:19

            So what’s your alternative explanation if it wasn’t actually an underfueling issue?

            Since it’s a bit too late for a mic drop (wouldn’t have made a very satisfying sound anyway, it was a low-hanging one):
            My point is that underfueling is the one explanation (with a basis in real life) that makes the least sense of them all. Virtually any other explanation would take at least a bit longer to raise the same kind of red flags. A leak of some cooling-related fluid, ethanol bubbles in the tank, a partial obstruction of the brake ducts, a corroded contact on the battery causing overheating whenever the ERS tries to charge it … all of these things would’ve made at least some sense as an explanation for what we saw. But not underfuelling.

        2. I think little bit of underfueling could be possible. Mercedes may have fueled for a couple of safety car laps and a relatively lonely drive to 5th and 6th.

          But as circumstances played out, both were on the limit for large part of the race.

          1. If there was a waterleak whould he drive around after finishing the race no he didn’t I expect the low fuel a much more issue then a waterleak that would be fatal several rounds before finish in that heat.

          2. someone or something
            23rd May 2022, 12:49


            a waterleak that would be fatal several rounds before finish in that heat.

            A waterleak doesn’t mean the car instantly loses all its water. It was probably a very small leak, but there’s never much safety margin with cooling in F1, so a tiny leak leads to drastic counter-measures.
            The temperatures on the track have little to do with the impact of a water leak. Temperatures were expected to be high, so they adapted the cooling to that. Unless they’re far off with their estimation, the temperatures in the car are on a similar level regardless of whether it’s scorching hot or a cold, rainy day. You set up the cooling for a temperature window, and anything that pushes you out of that window means trouble.

            If there was a waterleak whould he drive around after finishing the race

            Quote by James Vowles, just as Hamilton crossed the finish line:

            Let’s trundle in, get it as cool as you can. We can complete the lap, just trundle.

            This indicates that it was a small water leak, so that the temperatures could be controlled by cruising. The issue with parking the car is that the car tends to get hotter when it stops on the track and there’s no one around to mount fans on the sidepods. It was probably less risky to complete the victory lap.

            I expect the low fuel a much more issue

            The thing is, it’s not a matter of opinion anymore. Mercedes have confirmed it was a water leak, whereas underfueling was never anything more than an unsubstantiated wild guess from an outside observer.
            Anyway, here’s a radio exchange between Hamilton and Vowles on lap 64:

            Hamilton: Is it cooling at all? Is it cooling?
            Vowles: Looks like it is coming down with this action, but we have to maintain it.

    2. @david-br
      Max’s retirements came when he was running 2nd in tracks were Ferrari held the upper hand pace wise. Leclerc retired from the lead handing the win to Verstappen in a track that suited Ferrari more than RBR and even in race conditions he was fast enough to keep him behind with non tyre degradation issues.

      Technically speaking Max lost more points but psychologically Leclerc and Ferrari got a big blow from RBR today. A knockdown that certainly won’t be easy to compensate on the scorecards in the end of the season. Leclerc raced Verstappen wisely in Miami were Ferrari was on the backfoot in terms of tyre degradation but he has been pushing since the start of the season. The error in Imola and his pole yesterday after the spin are a testament of his attacking style.

      He and Ferrari need to deliver in Monaco in a circuit that is theoretically suited to them otherwise RBR and Max will take the psychological advantage over them and they will be extremely hard to beat in the rest of the season.

      1. @tifoso1989 All good points. Max came out of an intense scrap for the title last season. This season must be a breeze for him by comparison. Leclerc, on the other hand, doesn’t yet seem up to speed on the level of consistency and aggression needed to become champion. He can be that driver – at least in terms of aggression – as we’ve seen in the past. In terms of consistency, Verstappen doesn’t yet seem at his best either. But I agree with you that the momentum, including psychologically, seems to have swung to Red Bull now.

        1. In terms of consistency, Verstappen doesn’t yet seem at his best either.

          a driver that every race his finished, he finishes first.
          How about consistency…

          1. With luck Erikje! Even you have to admit his driving wasn’t his best today.

          2. For once I agree with Erikje…. to question max’s consistency is a reach. Max has finished first in every race he has completed. scrappy or not that is ultimate consistency. He wasn’t his best today because of the car. Even with the off track shenanigans max is a force still. Nobody can convince me that max wouldn’t have finished first this race with a working drs.

          3. Koddamn, with leclerc not having any issue I wouldn’t bet on a verstappen win, could be a good battle, but indeed, I consider him very consistent as well.

  4. You are also still making driving errors Charles.
    It isn’t all the cars fault that you are where you are.

    1. Max made a mistake today, so…

    2. Today, there was no driver error.

      1. It was a gust of wind, just like Carlos. Luckily both could go on.

  5. How is LeClerc so lenient when fighting Verstappen? (not this race of course). He did not fight particularly harshly in Imola, even worse in Miami. What a stark contrast with his defence against Hamilton in Monza 2019 or the fight with Verstappen the same year in Silverstone.
    Although even Verstappen was not as rough during the attempted overtake on Russell, still left space on the outside for Russell to sweep back in. Just compare that to his divebomb on Hamilton last year in the same place.

    1. What are you talking about?? Ferrari obviously did not have the race pace at Imola or Miami, then he got passed on straights. I think you forget about the rules: not moving too much to the side, not changing direction under braking etc. Yes, he did not maximize what was achievable at Imola, but SAI did not help him at all against VER… unlike PER, who managed to keep it 2nd behind VER. SAI should been 2nd in Australia and prevent VER from taking another 3 points. Also, let’s not forget that at Jeddah it was PER who lead the race initially and LEC did not seem to have what it takes to overtake him. Today one would have expected to see SAI do what RUS did, preventing RBR from gaining max points… but I guess we all know now SAI was nowhere today and of absolutely no use.

      1. Australia can’t be the race you’re talking about, verstappen retired there. Agree about sainz being subpar.

  6. Hamilton and Mercs made it look easy, they will find out it isn’t.

    He’ll have to take it on the chin. Was driving a good race (16 second gap?) Carlos was poor today very disappointing.

  7. If Mercedes keeps this up, and Ferrari doesn’t quickly put some good results on the scoreboard, they could well be looking at another disappointing and forgettable 3rd in the WCC by season’s end. Never mind fighting for the title. Leclerc has already lost a huge 46 points (!) lead over Verstappen in just three (!) races. It also doesn’t help that Sainz has now ended up in the gravel in half the races of the season, and that’s not counting his FP crash in Miami. Even if the Imola incident wasn’t his fault, it’s still a very poor score for someone in his position.

    1. Yes, indeed, renew his contract without thinking!

  8. Sainz again the architect of his own demise. I think it’s time for Ferrari to assign no 1 and no 2 driver roles, mot just because Leclerc is better this season, but because I belive it will take pressure away from Sainz, and maybe put him in a better place mentaly, because he is just overdriving that car again and again, where Lecrec seems maybe to accepting when Verstappen’s RB overtakes him, but I think that he is driving inteligently and picking his battles. Looks to me like Lecrec is thinking about the whole season in every race, and Sainz just the opposite.
    There was real speed in the Ferrari today, and the update looks good. They just need reliability, and not loose the development race.

    1. Sainz again the architect of his own demise.

      So far he’s weak, a disappointment.

      I think it’s time for Ferrari to assign no 1 and no 2 driver roles, mot just because Leclerc is better this season, but because I belive it will take pressure away from Sainz, and maybe put him in a better place mentaly, because he is just overdriving that car again and again

      No need for that so far, hardly believe it will be the case for the rest of the season. Might happen 1-2 times at best… but he will have to let LEC in front, no doubt. SAI has no real chance at the WDC, he should have realized it already. He did not get even a 2nd place on merit this season, a win was never in cards. His target should be PER, and that’s it. Don’t really know about overdriving, he’s just slower than LEC and VER and now that Mercedes improved and they have top drivers… no big wonder seeing him slip to 5th, 6th or so.

      1. Indeed, one thing to note is that, while hamilton hasn’t impressed me most of the season, on paper merc has 2 top drivers, the other top teams only have 1, so with merc getting close sainz, as shown today, or even perez, can become targets for them.

  9. Leclerc did everything right this weekend just ****ing luck caught him again while leading a race.

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