Charles Leclerc blames ‘impossible’ Ferrari for Bahrain nightmare

Charles Leclerc started second at the 2024 Bahrain GP, but fell backwards thanks to a brake problem

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Charles Leclerc admitted he was relieved to bring his Ferrari car home and avoid another Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix retirement after experiencing issues that severely hampered his race on Saturday.

The Monegasque started from second on the grid behind polesitter Max Verstappen, but any hopes of an intriguing battle between the pair quickly vanished after the Red Bull star bridged a 1.2-second gap after the first lap.

It soon became apparent Leclerc had bigger issues to contend with, locking up his front tyres on several occasions in the braking zone of Turns 9 and 10, as he began to fall down the order behind George Russell, Sergio Perez and his team-mate Carlos Sainz.

Having been so positive about their chances in pre-season, Leclerc was left frustrated with the braking issues with his SF-24 car and couldn’t figure out why the issue was occurring, as the 26-year-old described his car as “impossible” to drive in the opening stint of the race.

Max Verstappen leads Charles Leclerc of Ferrari during the 2024 Bahrain GP | Clive Rose/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“It was impossible in the first 15 laps, the issue was getting a lot worse every lap,” Leclerc told the press in Bahrain. “I was obviously basing my braking for Turns 9 and 10 with the previous lap, which obviously felt too late all the time, but the issue was getting a lot worse so every time I would brake three metres earlier, but I would still lock up.

“Then at lap 15 or 20, the issue stabilised, the team told me on the radio that it was more than 100 degrees between front right and front left, which is huge. So at that moment, I understood that the best thing I can do is just to bring the car home to the checkered flag.”

Leclerc grateful to score points

While it was nothing short of a disaster for Leclerc to fall as far as fifth place after putting himself on the front row in qualifying, he did regain some momentum in the second stint when switching to the hard tyre and passed Russell to take P4.

Seeing Sainz on the podium would have hurt, but after last year’s engine failure saw him pick up zero points, he was just pleased to get on the board for 2024.

“Honestly, considering that the issue didn’t get any better throughout the whole race, we started to be more consistent when the issue didn’t worsen every lap, which was helping me to be more consistent,” Leclerc added.

“Considering everything, to finish fourth is a really good effort. But I’m obviously very disappointed with the results and I honestly think that second place would have been very possible today.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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