Charles Leclerc ‘getting quite emotional’ about Ferrari situation after Australia DNF

Oliver Harden
Charles Leclerc has his head down, Sergio Perez in the background. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has his head down, Sergio Perez in the background. Saudi Arabia March 2023

A respected Formula 1 observer fears that Charles Leclerc’s retirement in Australia showed that he is “getting quite emotional” about Ferrari’s poor start to the 2023 season.

Having retired from the season-opener in Bahrain before incurring an engine-related grid penalty in Saudi Arabia, Leclerc’s challenging start to the campaign continued at Albert Park.

After being outqualified by team-mate Carlos Sainz for the first time in 2023, Leclerc was out on the first lap after making contact with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin at Turn 3.

Leclerc, 10th in the Drivers’ standings with just six points on the board, went on to describe 2023 as “the worst start to the season ever” having held a 46-point lead over eventual World Champion Max Verstappen at the same stage last year.

With Ferrari still awaiting a first podium finish of 2023, doubts persist over Leclerc’s patience at Ferrari with reports after the first race suggesting the Monegasque sought assurances from president John Elkann.

Speaking via his YouTube channel, former Ferrari and Williams team manager Peter Windsor believes Leclerc’s poor judgement on the first lap in Melbourne hinted at an underlying frustration with the team’s underperformance.

He said: “Charles Leclerc was out on the first lap because he qualified further down than he should have.

“He was in the melee, in the traffic, trying to go for it. recommends

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“He’s got two Aston Martins braking for the tight right hander and he goes to the left, effectively putting himself on the outside with two green Aston Martins inside him.

“What’s going to happen? He’s going to get taken out and exactly that [happened].

“I was really surprised that Charles did that.

“Well, I’m not surprised in a way because I think he’s getting quite emotional about the whole situation – the car not being competitive, getting beaten by Carlos Sainz in qualifying.

“He got the momentum, he got the run, he’s there on the outside and he’s thinking, ‘well, we’ll just see what happens here’ – but we know what happens!

“We’ve seen Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso run into one another already [in Bahrain] and there’s no way Lance Stroll is going to back away and straight into him. Charles was out.”

Windsor drew a comparison between Leclerc’s attacking approach and the more measured stance adopted by race winner Verstappen, driving the dominant Red Bull RB19, as he came under threat from Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at Turn 3 on the opening lap.

“That was entirely Charles Leclerc’s fault,” he said. “There’s no way he should have been putting that Ferrari on the outside going into that corner.

“He was too exposed to the potential rubbish that was going to happen and it did happen.

“That’s in contrast with the way Max Verstappen handled the Lewis Hamilton pass at the same corner.”