Charles Leclerc admits his lost victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix was tough to take after a power unit problem demoted him to third place.
Starting from pole position, Leclerc dropped to third place on the opening lap but overtook Valtteri Bottas and then teammate Sebastian Vettel to regain the lead on lap six. Having opened up a clear lead, Leclerc then suffered an MGU-H failure that saw him losing five seconds per lap and he dropped behind Lewis Hamilton and Bottas by the checkered flag.
“It happens — it’s part of motorsport,” Leclerc said. “Unfortunately today it was not our day, but I’m confident. The team has done an amazing job to recover the lack of pace in Australia. Of course I’m extremely disappointed like the whole team, but it happens in the season. I think we made the best out of it.
“We have been lucky in a very unlucky situation, because we had the Safety Car at the end, otherwise we would have finished even more rearward, and also I don’t think with the fuel we would have been OK. Very hard one to take, but thanks to the team for the amazing car all weekend long. I’m pretty sure we’ll come back stronger.”
Reflecting on the missed opportunity, Leclerc admits it is even more painful to suffer a problem when he was set for what would have been his first grand prix victory in only his second race for Ferrari.
“Today was not our day. It’s sad, because obviously I was so close of realizing a dream that you have since childhood, which is your first win in Formula 1 — but hopefully this day will come one day in the future. I’ll work for that, and I’m pretty sure the team will work for this but they should be proud about what they’ve done this weekend, and we’ll come back stronger.”
Leclerc still picked up the first podium of his career in Bahrain, but says the performance deserved more given Ferrari’s pace all weekend.
“I didn’t do a good start, and then we were very strong all race long. It’s a shame to only finish third, but at the end, as I said, it’s part of racing. We’ll come back stronger.
“As I said a lot in the past, I’m never really looking at the result and I’m more looking at the potential there was to do better. Today, third was not our place, but very happy anyway.”