The race started very well for Charles Leclerc. He was able to keep Max Verstappen behind at the race start. He was helped along by Max Verstappen going off into the gravel at turn 4 on lap 9, in a similar fashion to Carlos Sainz’s earlier moment. The race went very smoothly for him from that point on, and he was ahead of George Russell by around 27 seconds when he came into the pits for his first stop of the race, still on the soft tires.
He put on the mediums and he was still comfortably in the lead of the race, ahead by multiple seconds of the next car, and 6 laps later, everything came crashing down for him. What happened?
Ferrari have not yet confirmed what the issue was, but there is at least some indication that it was an issue with the power unit. It should be noted that Charles Leclerc’s engine is younger than Carlos Sainz’s own engine.
Why did the Ferrari driver have to retire at the Spanish GP?
Talking to Natalie Pinkham of Sky Sports after his retirement, Charles Leclerc said: “No, I don’t know anything. More than what happened basically, no indications. It just broke. I can only look at the positives, the qualifying pace, the race pace, and the tires have also looked good.”
He also asserted that they cannot afford any more reliability issues during the race. “We can‘t afford to have this issue happen again this season.”
On the future conditions of the championship and his home race at Monaco, Charles remains positive about his chances: “The lead of the championship will go down to nothing, but that’s fine. What is important is the performance. I can’t wait to go home next week, to Monaco.”
Charles Leclerc has never finished a race at Monaco in his Formula 1 career, famously failing to start in 2021, after he crashed his car during the qualifying session.
Team principal Mattia Binotto was certainly disappointed, as can be expected. However, he emphasized that they must focus on how the rest of the weekend had gone, as Leclerc had said earlier.
“It’s certainly a hard day as you say. As Charles said, we need to focus on the positives. It happened to the others, and now to us. It’s part of the game.”
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu also had similar problems and seemed to have lost power. On being asked if it’s an overall issue with the power unit, Binotto said: “I don’t think it’s a consistent problem.”
Ferrari will hope for a better weekend at Monaco, and Charles Leclerc will certainly hope for that, and to get his first home victory. He would also want to regain the championship lead, if possible.