Charles Leclerc took full responsibility for the first-lap collision with Sebastian Vettel that led to both Ferrari drivers retiring from the Styrian Grand Prix.
Leclerc attempted to pass Vettel down the inside as the field bunched up through Turn 3, but took to the inside curb and was launched into the air, with his left-rear wheel climbing over Vettel’s right rear and breaking his rear wing. Vettel retired at the end of the lap while Leclerc managed just one more lap before also coming into the pits with a broken floor, taking both Ferraris out of the race within the first two laps.
“I apologized,” Leclerc said after approaching Vettel. “Obviously, excuses are not enough in times like this, I am just disappointed in myself. I have done a very bad job today. I let the team down. Yeah, I can only be sorry, even though I know it is not enough.
“I hope I will learn from this and will come back stronger for the next races. But it is a tough time for the team. We don’t need that. The team doesn’t need that. And I put all the efforts of the team in the bin.
“I’m sorry but being sorry is not enough. Seb hasn’t got any faults today. I’ve let the team down after them working a whole week to bring the updates early. Too eager to gain those places in the first lap. I will learn from it.”
Asked if he was too optimistic with his move, Leclerc added: “Yes, yes I was.”
Ferrari had fast-tracked new parts originally scheduled for Hungary in order to get a back-to-back comparison at the Red Bull Ring after a poor start to the season, and Vettel said that made the double retirement even tougher to take.
“I was very surprised because I had the inside, and I was not expecting Charles to try something,” Vettel said. “I don’t think there was any space, so obviously a big pity, something that we should avoid. But not much that I could have done differently. I was just taking it easy and conservative because it was already very busy. It is a hairpin — it is very tight — and just trying to place my car for the next straight, but by then I realized that I had quite some damage on the car.
“It is a shame (to not test the new parts). It was a bonus to come back here to the same track, and also today is very similar in term of conditions. The car felt a lot better on Friday, and back to where it was last week up to the point where it went in the wrong direction.
“Yes, it is a shame, because also for the update we would really like to get some laps to see where the car is. But unfortunately we will not get that answer.”