A dejected Charles Leclerc says “everything has gone wrong” for him this season, the driver recording his second DNF of the campaign at the Australian Grand Prix.
Leclerc lined up on the Melbourne grid trailing championship leader Max Verstappen by 38 points and while he was by no means expecting to narrow the deficit in Melbourne, the driver starting P7 to Verstappen’s P1, he had hoped to at least limit the damage.
But it was not to be, Leclerc out of the race at Turn Three having been clipped by Lance Stroll as the drivers tussled for position at the start.
Leclerc, though, isn’t blaming the Aston Martin driver for what the stewards agreed was a racing incident.
“It was unfortunate to end the race this way today, but it was a racing incident and I don’t think that we could have done anything differently,” he said.
“I saw that he was blocked by Fernando, suddenly he braked a little early, I saw space on the left and I went for it but unfortunately Lance found himself between me and Fernando.”
His DNF at the Albert Park circuit was in sharp contrast to last season when he won the race from pole position while also bagging the fastest lap point.
With Verstappen winning in Melbourne it means Leclerc’s deficit in the championship is up to 63 points.
“The result is that we don’t get a point,” Leclerc lamented to Sky Sports. “It hurts.
“The start of the season is a disaster, it’s really not the start of the season I was hoping for.
“A lot of frustration. It’s been three weekends and everything has gone wrong. Problems, penalty.
“DNF in Bahrain, penalty in Jeddah, and DNF here. Really not the start of the season I was hoping for.”
He added: “We were waiting so much for this race because we could have done something very interesting.
“We made some set-up changes and I think in terms of race pace we could have seen a good improvement.”
His latest issue saw Leclerc go from saying on Friday that Ferrari must not “demotivate ourselves” to saying he just wants to finish races without problems.
“At the moment I don’t have long-term goals for this season,” he said.
“We have to think about finishing race by race without taking penalties and having problems. These are the priorities at this historic moment.”