Leclerc drove two laps with seatbelt off

Date published: August 16 2020

Ferrari PA

Charles Leclerc encountered “two issues” at the Spanish Grand Prix, but the fact he had taken his seatbelt off forced him to retire.

The Monegasque driver looked set to challenge for a points finish as he harried Lando Norris in the McLaren for P10, but Leclerc’s afternoon soon fell apart.

On lap 36 it seemed that Leclerc had hired team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s spinning Ferrari as he lost control at the final chicane.

But replays showed the engine had cut out on him, causing the wheels to lock and send Leclerc into a spin.

Leclerc would get his SF1000 started again but it was clear his afternoon was over as he tiptoed around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya before returning to his garage to retire.

Ferrari soon afterwards said Leclerc’s issues were electrical, and he added that there were actually two problems with the Ferrari.

As it turns out though, Leclerc had taken his seatbelt off after giving up on his race before Ferrari asked him to try to start the SF1000 again.

That time it worked, but since his belt was now detached he was forced to stop.

“To be honest there were two issues,” he told reporters after the Spanish Grand Prix.

“The engine switched off, actually not only the engine but the whole car switched off, and it locked completely the rear wheels.

“I don’t know what happened, the team don’t know what’s happened yet, so we need to investigate that.

“I tried to start the engine after the issue and it was not starting. So I took off the seatbelt getting ready to get out. But they asked me to try one last time, and the last time it actually worked again. Then I had no seat belts so I had to stop.”

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Leclerc said he was happy to continue without the belts but was moving forward under braking, and was “pretty sure somebody wouldn’t be happy with me driving without seatbelts.”

Ferrari therefore took the decision to pull him from the race.

Without these dramas, Leclerc thought a finish as high as P6 was on the cards.

“To be completely honest it was not that bad of a race. We had a good chance to finish around P6/P7,” he said.

“We were very quick on thew soft towards the end and then on the medium we couldn’t show as we were in traffic, but we were planning a one-stop on my side and I think it was working pretty well until the issue.”

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