Bahrain GP | Charles Leclerc after retiring: “I think the podium was there”

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2023 isn’t off to a good start for last year’s Bahrain pole sitter and race winner Charles Leclerc. In spite of an ICU change before the race started, the engine of his SF-23 broke down while he was running comfortably in P3 behind the Red Bulls.

The Monegasque was definitely hurting when he spoke to Sky Sports after his retirement from the race on Lap 41: “Obviously it is a shame. We expected to be on the back foot this weekend especially in the race with Red Bull, but they seem to be on another planet right now.”

“But that’s exactly in these weekends that we need to make sure that we bring maximum points possible at home, and we didn’t manage it this weekend.”

Asked if the issue might be related to the last minute change made to his car, the Ferrari driver was unsure: “I don’t know, I have no idea what happened in the car when I lost power there.

“The only thing I know for now is that I lost the power, but I don’t know for which reason and if it’s related to the ICU change we had this morning, or if it’s not related.”

It’s extremely disappointing as Leclerc’s pace had been great and he believes it would have allowed him to easily end the race on the podium.

“Yeah, we definitely had the car to fight for the podium. I mean, honestly, I think the podium was there. We had a good gap behind, I was managing the pace, everything felt good, so it’s a shame.”

After a good performance in pre-season testing and a strong performance during yesterday’s qualifying session, Leclerc could have been toying with the hope of a start of the year on par with last season, where he had achieved two race wins in the first three rounds, and ended up as the runner up in the 2022 drivers’ championship.

Instead, the same old reliability problem, which had severely affected the second part of the season, struck back:

“Now I just hope we can look into it and understand what went wrong and don’t have this problem anymore,” said keeping an eye on the next round in Saudi Arabia in two weeks.

Leclerc can hardly find positives in the aftermaths of such an afternoon, but was pleased to see that the strategical choice of making only one attempt during the final Q3 session yesterday in order to save a new set of soft tyres for the race.

“I mean, the first stint, the choice that we had made was the right one in qualifying yesterday. Apart from that, not much [to save], ” he concluded.

Photo credits: Scuderia Ferrari