Charles Leclerc was in contention for the win at the 2022 F1 Azerbaijan GP with an alternate strategy of pitting early for the hard tires. All his hopes, however, went up in smoke, just like his power unit, as he suffered his second DNF in 3 races. This made him the first driver since Juan Pablo Montoya to fail to score a single win despite securing 4 consecutive pole positions.
The Ferrari driver now finds himself 34 points behind championship rival Max Verstappen in the drivers' standings. Expressing hope that the team can find a fix to the power unit reliability issues, Leclerc said:
“It’s a disappointing outcome for us today. At the beginning of the first stint on the Mediums we weren’t particularly strong, but towards the end of it, we started catching Checo [Sergio Perez]. During the Virtual Safety Car, we decided to take the opportunity and pit for Hards, which was the right thing to do. It put us in a position where we could lead the race and what we had to focus on from then on was managing the tyres to the end. We then had an issue with the power unit and had to retire. It’s time to go home and reset before Canada. We have to get on top of things and come back stronger there.”
This is definitely a difficult day, says Charles Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz
Charles Leclerc might not have had the best day, but his teammate Carlos Sainz didn't fare much better either as he retired with a hydraulics issue. Speaking to the media, the Spaniard reflected on a tough weekend for the team as both he and Leclerc suffered early exits from the race.
There was still a sense of optimism from Sainz, however, as this was just the 8th race of the season and there is still time for the team to bounce back. He said:
“Together with Charles’ [Leclerc] issue, this is definitely a difficult day for the entire team and our fans, as we lost valuable points and mileage. For one reason or another, it’s been complicated to build a strong momentum so far this season. However, we are a very strong team and I have absolutely no doubt we have the ability and determination to come back stronger. There is still a long way to go this year. On to Canada.”
Charles Leclerc lost the championship lead to Max Verstappen in the last few races. He has now lost second place in the standings as well to Sergio Perez. It will be an uphill climb for the Ferrari driver should he bounce back in the championship against the Red Bull juggernaut.
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