After the difficulties that arose in the free practices and especially in yesterday’s qualifying, Sunday at Zandvoort was also completely forgettable for Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque driver of Ferrari experienced a nightmarish race, culminating in an early retirement after some damage to the underbody of the car made SF-23 #16 an easy target for anyone on the track, causing Charles Leclerc to plummet to the back of the field, even behind debutant Liam Lawson with AlphaTauri.
Right choice, wrong execution
Troubles for the Ferrari talent had already begun in the first lap. In the sudden rain shower that hit the Dutch track shortly after the start of the race, Leclerc slightly damaged the front wing of his Ferrari in contact with Oscar Piastri’s McLaren and then decided at the last moment to return to the pits to switch from slick tires to intermediates. A correct call that, if executed properly, would have put him in contention for the top positions. Unfortunately, the mechanics weren’t ready to receive him with the correct tires.
During this first pit stop, Charles Leclerc lost over 13 seconds, and the mechanics, evidently caught off guard by the situation, weren’t quick enough to replace the damaged front wing of the Monegasque, who therefore returned to the track with a far-from-performing car. At the end of his race, Charles Leclerc appeared in front of the microphones of Sky Sport F1 and shared his version of the events, claiming the decision to pit at the end of the first lap and explaining the reasons for the inevitable early retirement.
Charles Leclerc’s analysis
“Let’s say that the call in the first lap was right,” confirmed Charles Leclerc, “even though we lost time because we weren’t ready. The call was mine. Overall, we gained more than we lost. Afterwards, I had a small contact with Oscar, but that had a huge impact on the car. We lost over 60 points and there was nothing more to be done. I didn’t see well where we hit, but it was a very important part of the car and we lost a lot,” he concluded following his retirement from the 2023 Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix.
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