Charles Leclerc says there is no way he can look at any positives from Ferrari’s first race of the season after retiring from the Bahrain Grand Prix when running third.
Ferrari went into the race encouraged by the pace it had shown in qualifying but wary of its race potential after high levels of degradation during practice. Leclerc didn’t complete a final run in Q3 in order to save a new set of soft tires, and it paid off in the early stages as he got ahead of Sergio Perez. He soon dropped away from Max Verstappen and had already been relegated to a distant third before reporting a loss of power.
“…Impossible to look at the positives on a day like this when you don’t end the race,” Leclerc said. “The choice was good in qualifying, the start was good, but the performance was not there and reliability — we have a problem in the first race.
“I cannot say it feels good. Obviously there was quite a lot of work on (reliability) but we need to keep working…first race and first reliability problem. Yeah, not good.”
Leclerc says he felt like he had a good chance to hold off Fernando Alonso for third place prior to the retirement but the deficit to Red Bull is far more concerning to the Ferrari driver.
“(Aston Martin) seem to be quick. Today, third was possible. I had a bit of margin to the guys behind and managed well but they were starting a bit further back. Bahrain is a very specific track so I hope the picture can change a bit from the next race but we cannot rely on that. We need to work and find something.
“I mean, I’m as confident as I can be being second off the pace, which is not really confident to be honest! Red Bull seems to have found something really big during the race pace…
“In terms of qualifying pace, they are actually pretty similar to us, so at least we managed to extract the lap time yesterday but then we come to the race and we are a second a lap off the pace which is huge, so we need to work into that and the reliability.”