Charles Leclerc Retires From Promising Podium Position
Scuderia Ferrari heads home from the opening round of the 2023 F1 season in Bahrain with 12 points, courtesy of a fourth place finish for Carlos Sainz, but also with the disappointment of Charles Leclerc’s retirement at two thirds distance, when he was a comfortable third.
The podium slipped away. Both drivers got off the line well and were competitive on the Soft tyres during the first stint. Leclerc also benefited from being on the new set he had saved from qualifying which helped him get ahead of Sergio Perez. After that, he was second for a long time, running at an excellent pace. After a pit stop to switch to the Hard tyre, there was a clear difference in pace when compared to Red Bull and Aston Martin. Charles was no longer able to stay with Max Verstappen and Perez, but thanks to accurate tyre management he seemed set to bring home a third place finish. Then, with 17 laps to go, he had to retire with an electrical problem on his power unit. Carlos kept fourth place off the line, but suffered with similar degradation to his team-mate. It meant that, in the closing stages, having inherited third after his team-mate’s retirement, he was passed by Fernando Alonso. Sainz did manage to fend off the attention of Lewis Hamilton in the final laps to cross the finish line in fourth place. The next round is in two weeks’ time in Saudi Arabia.
“It was a challenging Sunday. We knew already from testing that it was going to be tough here in Bahrain and now we need to focus on improving for the upcoming races. Time to put our heads down, work hard and see how we can close the gap to the top. It’s only race one, so we’ll keep pushing no matter what.”
“We had a great start and everything felt good. We had a solid gap behind us and were managing the pace well until unfortunately, we lost power. It’s a shame and we will look into the causes to make sure we understand what happened.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“Of course we are disappointed, how could we not be. We knew we’d have to deal with tyre degradation, but we had not expected reliability problems. It’s a shame for Charles, because in the first stint his pace was good and even with the heavy degradation on the Hard tyre, he could have brought home a third place, that would have been a good way to start the season. Carlos drove a solid race, running at a consistent pace and he gave it his all to finish fourth. After this first race, we have a clear picture of the situation and we know what areas we must work on. We have to improve a lot in terms of tyre management and clearly, we have to ensure we have no more reliability problems like the one that affected us today.”