Leclerc had 'good chance' of P6 before hitting electrical issue and undoing belts
After a lacklustre qualifying session in Spain left him ninth on the grid, Charles Leclerc says he was on course for a possible sixth place finish before his race came to an abrupt halt in unusual circumstances.
The Monegasque was lapping just behind McLaren’s Lando Norris in 10th place, having swapped from soft to medium tyres, when he spun around at the Turn 14/15 chicane on lap 36.
Replays quickly confirmed that his car had appeared to switch off mid-corner, with Ferrari later blaming an electrical fault. Leclerc eventually got the car re-started but returned to the pits after two laps.
“To be honest there were two issues,” Leclerc said afterwards.
“The engine switched off, actually not only the engine but the whole car switched off, and it locked completely the rear wheels," he continued. "I don’t know what happened, the team don’t know what’s happened yet, so we need to investigate that.
“I tried to start the engine after the issue and it was not starting. So I took off the seatbelt getting ready to get out. But they asked me to try one last time, and the last time it actually worked again. Then I had no seat belts so I had to stop.”
Over team radio, Leclerc said he wouldn’t have minded continuing without belts, but admitted he was moving forward under braking and was “pretty sure somebody wouldn’t be happy with me driving without seatbelts”, at which point Ferrari boxed him immediately.
That spelled the end of the day for the 22-year old, who reckons he could have finished well inside the top 10 with a smooth run to the chequered flag, having planned a one-stop strategy like the one team mate Sebastian Vettel took to seventh place.
“To be completely honest it was not that bad of a race. We had a good chance to finish around P6/P7. We were very quick on thew soft towards the end and then on the medium we couldn’t show as we were in traffic, but we were planning a one-stop on my side and I think it was working pretty well until the issue.”
Despite the non-score, Leclerc remains fourth in the drivers’ championship, though he loses more ground to those in front, while Racing Point’s Lance Stroll is now just five points further back.