Charles Leclerc said that the damage causing him to retire from the Dutch Grand Prix was significant enough to leave his Ferrari car in a ‘different category’ to Formula 1.
The Monegasque also revealed that he sustained the damage on the opening lap, after suffering a bizarre absence of pace compared to his teammate, Carlos Sainz.
For the majority of the race, Leclerc languished in 15th place whilst Sainz was competing for a podium suggesting a problem with the car as the disparity between the drivers was so uncharacteristic.
It turned out that the 25-year-old sustained damage from the opening lap of the race that rendered his car totally uncompetitive.
“Already on the first lap we had the damage,” Leclerc said to media following the race, including Total-Motorsport.com. “I could feel much more than the guys were telling me on the radio.
“Initially I think it was five to 10 points [of downforce lost] but from what I’ve been told but obviously then we realised it was more than 60, and 60 is a different category. So after that, after the first lap, it was downhill.”
Leclerc also added that nobody was to blame for the opening lap contact. Therefore it was unfortunate for the driver that the damage was so significant.
“We were in wet conditions with slicks and it was such a light touch,” Leclerc added. “But it had huge consequences for my car so yeah, a shame.”
Why didn’t Leclerc retire earlier?
Leclerc did manage to still put up a fight with his broken car. Liam Lawson attempted to pass the Ferrari in the AlphaTauri, but due to the location of the DRS zones Leclerc was able to overtake the rookie back into Turn 1.
For the five-time race winner, that was as good as it got as before and after he was just overtaken by any car that managed to coast up to the back of his gearbox.
Despite the damage on the opening lap, he didn’t immediately retire as Ferrari anticipated that the wet conditions could open opportunities for the team.
“We were just waiting for some rain,” Leclerc added to the media, including Total-Motorsport.com. “It’s very tricky to drive a car with 60 points less in the rain but it also adds a lot of chaos.
“You can do something different to the others and maybe get one or two points, every point counts and we didn’t want to give up too early.”