Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2023

Leclerc rues “worst start to a season ever” after second retirement in three races

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc rued his luckless start to the 2023 season after retiring from the Australian Grand Prix on the first lap of the race.

Last year’s winner at the Albert Park circuit tangled with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin at turn three. Leclerc was on the outside of his rival when the pair made contact, which sent the SF-75 into the run-off area. He was unable to extract his Ferrari at the gravel trap and retired on the spot.

Leclerc said the collision occurred as a result of Fernando Alonso slowing down in front of the other Aston Martin.

“At turn one I took it easy and turn three I wasn’t really planning an overtake at first on Lance,” Leclerc explained. “Then I saw that he had to brake very early because of Fernando in front that was braking early.

“So I released the brakes and put myself alongside Lance and then Fernando had to brake even more. So Lance found himself between me and Fernando and he couldn’t turn in and we had contact.”

The stewards blamed no one for the collision and Leclerc agreed it was a racing incident.

“I’m not pointing the finger at Lance because I think he just had no choice once Fernando slowed down the car the second time,” he said. “For me it was just impossible to see whether Lance was staying behind Fernando. He was just in between, obviously I didn’t think that he was there.

“So it’s just extremely frustrating. It’s the worst start to the season ever.”

Leclerc has endured a tough start to the 2023 season. He retired from the season-opening race in Bahrain with a power unit failure while running third.

He was only able to finish seventh in Saudi Arabia after a grid penalty due to the power unit parts changes arising from his Bahrain retirement.

Leclerc was unhappy with the result of qualifying yesterday after Ferrari was unable to execute its plan for his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr to give him a tow.

Pictures: Leclerc retires from the Australian Grand Prix

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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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22 comments on “Leclerc rues “worst start to a season ever” after second retirement in three races”

  1. Lance indeed had nowhere to go, so 0% at fault.

    1. Yeah, Stroll really did not have anywhere to go when Leclerc was too optimistic with his move.

    2. 9 minutes 🙄

  2. I would call it his secind DNF rather than second retirement. To me, if a driver has put a working car into the wall or a gravel trap, that isn’t a regirement.

  3. Will Charles ever mature enough to become a contender?

    1. Doubt it.. He is definitely fast on days but he has to understand that he can’t be a championship contender with such errors.
      Ferrari has a fast but error-prone driver in one car and not a champion material in other. They need better combination of drivers in addition to all other team level improvements.

      1. This is an unfair comment on leclerc, verstappen was making a lot of mistakes too early on in 2018, was taking a lot of risks also in 2017 and those years where only occasional wins were possible, then ended up winning as soon as he got a title contending car in 2021, so wait for leclerc to get such a car before saying he can’t win the title, unfortunately you might have to wait forever with ferrari’s recent record.

        1. Still Max was improving all the time and had not so many mistakes as Charles. Still lst year Max had also 2 zero points races and became WC anyway.
          Charles need to control himself better!

      2. You seem to be the only one blaming Leclerc. He was somehow supposed to know Alonso was braking early on the other side of Lance preventing Stroll from turning into the corner?

        1. It was a high risk place to attempt an overtake… and it didn’t work out for him. Leclerc only has himself to blame honestly, because no one else was at fault and he could have avoided the attempt on that corner, or at least taken a slightly wider line.

  4. And Ferrari’s political game is so weak that Sainz gets dumped out of the points but reckless driving by Gasly goes unpenalized because Alpine would be upset if their driver got a race ban.

    If Vasseur isn’t protesting this result, what good is he to the team? You just know Todt and Brawn would never stand for this.

    1. Jean wouldn’t have a pay driver in his second car, while Fred is indeed very partial to that idea.

      1. @proesterchen Zhou is a pay driver, but he’s not too shabby. He’s giving Bottas a good run for his money, and Bottas was winning Grand Prix before Mercedes ‘thanked him for his services’. For Vasseur at a team like Sauber, especially in a situation where they were in between Alfa Romeo and Audi without much chances to start new long-term partnerships in the meantime, money was a factor that can’t be ignored.

        That said, if he’s going to stand there and take the stewards laughing off everyone’s reckless driving and only penalizing Sainz – straight out of the points no less – then … well, he’s putting himself firmly in Domenicali territory as far as Ferrari team principals go.

  5. Leclerc was really over-ambitious. I feel sorry for him, he’s a talented race, one of the best, sometimes astounding in final qualifying laps, but Ferrari have gone backwards.

    1. being very good in Qulifliers isn’t enough he needs to improve those little mistakes.

      1. @macleod I agree, but I think sometimes he tries too hard because the car is underperforming. He was fine at the start of last season when Ferrari were equal to Red Bull or had the edge. When Ferrari’s problems started, mistakes began creeping back into his driving too. I really think it would be good for Formula 1 to see Ferrari back at the top, they’re letting their drivers down.

        1. harsh vardhan harsh vardhan
          3rd April 2023, 2:38

          It’s all about the car, you will make less mistakes when you think you make for the potential loss

          When you know you can’t make the time or place back. You will get crashes and mistakes like these, 2018 German gp etc

          Give Latifi and fast car that suite him, he will blow the field( i am serious) , F1 is team sport, if i am the fia boss i would strip drivers championship all together.

          Ego humans acting like they are some aliens

  6. ……so far. Remember this is Ferrari.

    1. these comments really show how superior Ferrari is as a team to everybody else… even during one hell of a “down”-spell, people fear them to the point they feel the need to ridicule them.

      1. lol@this take. Copium much. People rip on all the teams this way. Yes, Ferrari get an extra dose because of the years when they had an unfair amount of influence with Bernie and the FIA.

  7. Leclerc’s current Ferrari woes remind me of a young Kimi Raikkonen at Mclaren. All the talent and speed needed to become a champion yet for some reason or another something always goes wrong with reliability, team operations or being put under too much pressure having to compensate for car performance which leads to mistakes.

    I’m a Ferrari fan but if Vasseur can’t iron out all the simple mistakes Ferrari makes and turn team operations around by summer, I won’t be surprised if Charles is going to look up Toto’s number and give him a call to ask when Lewis is finally going to retire.

    1. So, he has only has 3-4 year wait then for a better drive. He better tighten it up if he wants the seat. I’d rather have Norris than Leclerc currently.

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