Charles Leclerc was forced to retire on lap 28 with power unit issues after building a dominant lead in the Spanish GP; Max Verstappen now takes the lead in the drivers’ standings after claiming his fourth win of the season
Last Updated: 22/05/22 6:28pm
Charles Leclerc said Ferrari “cannot afford” many more race retirements after a power unit failure destroyed his hopes of winning the Spanish Grand Prix.
Pole-sitter Leclerc dominated the early stages at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but lost power and retired on lap 28, allowing title rival Max Verstappen to capitalise by winning the race to move to the top of the drivers’ standings for the first time this season.
The Ferrari driver admitted that the issue came without warning and that, despite positive moments in the weekend, if he is going to continue to challenge for the championship he cannot afford any more reliability failures.
“I had no indications,” he told Sky Sports. “It just broke and lost the power completely.
“It is a shame. In those moments I feel like there is nothing more I can do apart from looking at the positives and there are plenty this weekend.
“We will look at this issue and we cannot afford for this to happen many times in the season so we need to find the problem.”
Despite Spain providing a weekend that Ferrari will want to put firmly behind them, Team Principal Mattia Binotto remained positive about his team’s trajectory for the rest of the season.
“I think at the end, we need to keep optimistic,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s been a positive overall weekend in the way we’ve brought upgrades, the car has been fast, we made a fantastic pole on Saturday and the race pace today was great.
“After a few races where we were struggling with tyre wear and tyre degradation, today at least we were pretty fast.”
Sainz: Fourth wasn’t what I wanted
Despite Binotto’s positivity, Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz cut a much more despondent figure after a fourth-place finish.
After starting the race in third, he spun off into the gravel on lap seven and had to recover from 11th, but was unable to get past George Russell and onto the podium, admitting it was not the home Grand Prix he had envisioned.
“It was a long tough race for us,” said Sainz.
“After the gust of wind and the spin I tried to recover, but the car was not the same after that as I picked up quite a lot of damage.
“I was sliding all around… but in the end fourth. Not what I wanted, clearly struggling the whole race but that is how it goes sometimes.
“It wasn’t our day. The start, the spin just everything went the wrong way. Then to do a full race distance with the damage that I had was quite tough also.”
Formula 1 returns in Monaco from May 27 to 29. Full coverage of all practice sessions, qualifying and the race will be live on Sky Sports F1.