“I’ve been useless,” admitted Charles Leclerc in a brutally honest reaction to crashing out in Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying having been favourite. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton said he understood his rival’s pain, saying he would have felt the same in the same situation…
Leclerc looked immense in final practice and the opening part of qualifying, but got it all wrong at Turn Eight on his second run in Q2, pitching his Ferrari into the barriers in the same spot as Robert Kubica managed in his Williams earlier in the session. His instant reaction on team radio was “I am stupid. I am stupid.”
Hamilton, now in his 13th Formula 1 season, had earlier in the weekend said that he sees “much of myself in” Leclerc and praising him for “doing a great job with huge expectations on him at a huge team like Ferrari”. And after taking second on the grid behind Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton had some sympathy for Leclerc, following his crash.
“I would be the same,” said Hamilton when asked about Leclerc’s assessment of himself. “That's how we're tuned as racing drivers, when it's your mistake we're tough on ourselves. Maybe a little bit less when you're older. But still it's painful.
“It's a lot of pressure around a track like this and on his young shoulders. It's totally normal. Years and years ago I didn't come out of my room for two or three days when I had some experiences like that. So I totally understand how he feels and that's cool he's open about it, because he can get it out and move forwards tomorrow.”