Dejected Leclerc says it’s “impossible” to be positive after round one retirement · RaceFans

Charles Leclerc admitted it was “impossible” for him to be positive about the opening race of the 2023 season after retiring with a power unit problem in Bahrain

The Ferrari driver was running third, well behind the two leading Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez when he lost power in his car on lap 41, pulling off the circuit into retirement. Leclerc said he lost power “completely” and that he “couldn’t do anything after that.”

Ferrari later confirmed they had “lost the engine” in Leclerc’s car. The team fitted new control electronics and a new energy store to his power unit prior to the race.

The Ferrari driver was downcast about the torrid start to the season, after Verstappen and Red Bull secured almost maximum points from the weekend.

“[It’s] impossible to look at the positives in a day like this when you don’t end the race,” Leclerc told media including RaceFans. “The start was good, but the performance was not there and unfortunately reliability we have a problem in the first race so we need to look into those things.”

Asked by RaceFans how confident he could be in Ferrari’s new car after being the closest driver to the Red Bulls in the opening race before retiring, Leclerc admitted he was “as confident as I can be being a second off the pace, which is not really confident to be honest.”

“Red Bull seems to have found something really big during their race pace,” he continued. “In terms of quali pace, they are actually pretty similar to us so at least we managed to extract the lap time yesterday.

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“But then we come to the race and we are a second every lap off the pace, which is huge. So we really need to work into that, plus the reliability.”

Leclerc is also wary of the performance of Aston Martin. Fernando Alonso took the final podium position in third for Aston Martin after Leclerc’s retirement, passing the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jnr in the closing laps.

“They seem to be quick,” Leclerc said. “I think today third place was possible, we had a bit of margin with the guys behind.

“I was managing well that last stint, but they were starting also a bit further back so I don’t know. Bahrain is also a very specific track so I hope that the picture can change a little bit from the next race, but we cannot rely on that. We need to work and find something.”

Leclerc admitted that the opening race had confirmed Ferrari’s fears about their performance level relative to Red Bull following pre-season testing.

“Unfortunately after the tests I think we were hoping that we were wrong in predicting the things,” he admitted. “But I think we were exactly right.

“So we are very far from them in the race pace and that was unfortunately expected.”

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