From ZANDVOORT, Netherlands: Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc, described the Dutch Grand Prix as the most challenging race of his season. Struggling for performance during the weekend, he retired early on lap 41 due to damage to his car.
The incident that eventually led to Leclerc’s premature exit occurred on the opening lap of the race. He had a collision with Oscar Piastri, which resulted in the front wing end plate of his Ferrari breaking. This caused further damage as the broken plate travelled under his car.
Adding to his woes, Leclerc’s initial pit stop became unexpectedly chaotic. He arrived ready for a change to intermediate tyres within the opening lap, only to find his pit crew unprepared. This resulted in a loss of valuable time.
Leclerc was quite candid in admitting the struggles he faced throughout the weekend. These difficulties weren’t just limited to the race – he found his Ferrari to be challenging to handle during the practice and qualifying sessions as well. In fact, during qualifying he had a crash.
Leclerc had this to say about his weekend: “In terms of result obviously with a DNF like this it’s not good, but it’s been an extremely difficult weekend. In terms of balance it is probably the most difficult weekend of the season, and driveability of the car.”
Leclerc further added, “We need to look into it, because the last two, three races were getting better on that side of things and for some reason it worsened this weekend.”
Upon initially assessing the damage to Leclerc’s Ferrari, the team thought it was manageable. However, upon realizing the performance loss was more significant than they initially thought, they decided to retire him from the race.
Leclerc shared his experience of the damage saying, “Obviously I already had the first lap when we had the damage. I could feel much more than the guys were telling me on the radio. Initially it was 5 to 10 points [of downforce], what I’ve been told, but obviously then we realised it was more than 60, and more than 60 is a different category.”
Explaining the confusion during Leclerc’s pit stop, Ferrari team principal, Vasseur, said, “The rain was in the last corner and he decided to pit, it was a very late call, but I think it was still the right decision because we were in a much better position than before even with the six or seven seconds we lost in the pit lane.”
Vasseur concluded, “For sure, if you are 10 seconds behind or five seconds further back on the road and you make the call, it is much easier. But I don’t have to complain about this because it was the right call.”