Charles Leclerc has admitted his retirement from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix “hurts”. The Ferrari driver was forced to pull up while in the lead of the race on lap 20, with smoke pouring out of the back of his car.
The Monegasque driver will now lose further ground to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship, having come into this weekend nine points behind the Dutchman. He will also lose a place in the standings Sergio Perez.
Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz similarly had to retire after an issue on lap 9. The Prancing Horse are being plagued by problems after Leclerc also suffered a mechanical issue in the Spanish Grand Prix last month, with a lack of reliability and team mistakes threatening to derail his championship bid.
Damningly, Leclerc has started on pole position in all of the last four races but has not won any of them. That makes him the first driver to fail to convert four successive poles since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2002.
He told Sky Sports F1: “It hurts. We really have to look into that so it does not happen again. I don’t really find the right words to describe it. It’s very, very disappointing. I don;’t know. We really need to look into it.
“We’ve been fast and we did have problems in the first part of the season. Now it seems we have a bit more compared to the beginning of the season but we didn’t change massive things.
“If anything we made it better so it’s difficult to understand. We’ll have to analyse. I don’t have the full picture of what happened today. Personally, again, it hurts.
“I really don’t know for now. I have no news. There’s still the disappointment. I came from the car straight to here and I didn’t speak to anybody from the team. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Montoya was on pole for five straight races in the 2022 season but did not win any of them for Williams, with David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello all victorious instead. And Leclerc will hope not to extend his run.
After the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the Formula One circus heads to Canada for the next race next Sunday. The teams then return to Europe for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 1-12.