A despondent Charles Leclerc admitted that Ferrari are nowhere near Red Bull after Max Verstappen cruised to victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Red Bull locked out the front row and finished 1-2 in Sakhir to start the 2023 Formula One season in the best possible way, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso claiming a remarkable third.
The final spot on the podium looked set to be Leclerc’s but as the race entered the finals stages, his Ferrari suddenly lost power and he was instantly out of the grand prix.
‘No, no, no, no. Come on. What happened guys? No power,’ the Monegasque driver exclaimed over the team radio, but even after returning to the paddock he was still none the wiser.
‘I have no idea what happened,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘All I know is I had a loss of power – that’s the only thing I felt and that was it. I don’t know if it is related to the issues we had this morning.
‘We expected to be on the back foot this weekend, especially in the race to Red Bull – that team is on another planet right now.
‘But that’s exactly why most weekends we need to bring maximum points possible home, and we didn’t manage to do so. I had a great start, but that’s not enough to make me happy after this race.’
Leclerc, who won last year’s season opener in Bahrain, is hoping to become the first Ferrari driver to win the title since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 but after today’s race Verstappen will easily be the favourite to claim a third championship in a row.
But the 25-year-old can take some comfort in that in the last six seasons the winner of the first race has failed to win the title.
Up next on the calendar is the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in two weeks time.
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