Charles Leclerc has played down Lance Stroll’s involvement in the opening lap incident, which took him out of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix, and resulted in the Ferrari driver’s second DNF of the F1 season.
The Monegasque, who had dominated the 2022 Australian GP, had a far from rosy return qualifying a lowly seventh before spinning into the gravel trap at Turn 3 on Lap 1, ending his race.
It capped off what Leclerc regards as his worst start to a season yet with himself and Ferrari well adrift of championship leaders Red Bull and Max Verstappen heading into the spring break.
“I took Turn 1 easy,” Leclerc told the media. “I wasn’t planning on overtaking Lance, and then I saw he had to brake very early because of Fernando in front breaking early.
“So I released the brakes and got alongside Lance. He was in between, which he didn’t think he was there, so yeah, just extremely frustrating, it’s the worst start to the season ever.”
Refusal to blame Stroll
Despite Stroll appearing to push Leclerc wide the stewards didn’t hand the Canadian a time penalty ensuring he finished fourth behind teammate Fernando Alonso.
This is despite Alonso braking twice when entering the corner, ensuring a bottleneck effect which caused Leclerc to be squeezed out.
“I’m not pointing the finger on Lance because I think he had no choice,” said Leclerc. “Once Fernando slowed down a second time, it was just impossible to see whether Lance was staying behind Fernando.”