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Ferrari boss stunned by failure which robbed Leclerc of victory

Engine power failure cost the 21-year-old a maiden win in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc.
Image: Imago/PA Images

DISAPPOINTED TEAM CHIEF Mattia Binotto said Ferrari had no explanation for the power failure that cost Charles Leclerc a maiden victory in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Binotto said his team, for whom Leclerc finished third and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel fifth after they had locked out the front row in qualifying, would investigate their cars and data “as soon as we can”.

He said also that he had lost no faith in Vettel, who succumbed to pressure again when he spun off during a dramatic battle with defending champion Lewis Hamilton.

Rivals and defending champions Mercedes swept to a second consecutive one-two finish with five-time champion Hamilton victorious ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

“We need to look at the engine, the car and the data,” said Binotto after the race, which saw Leclerc become the first Monegasque driver to claim a podium finish since 1950.

Formula 1 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix - Hamilton Wins Leclerc couldn't hide his disappointment after the Bahrain Grand Prix. Source: James Gasperotti

The 21-year-old new boy had looked likely to win from pole until the final 10 laps when his engine lost power.

“We don’t have a clear indication yet,” said Binotto.

It’s too early so we’ll check later on. It’s good that we finished that race in third place — points that will count. We got the fastest lap of the race too, thanks to Charles.

“He did a great race. It’s obviously disappointing, but we need to look at the positives from the weekend and come back again stronger.

I think we had a good car this weekend and we can count on our two drivers. Obviously, it was not a great race for Seb as well.

“He was second when he made the mistake, but he can still deliver.”

Vettel was battling Hamilton for second before he spun at Turn Four.

Vettel ‘feels pressure’

“It’s something that can happen in a race,” he said. “They were fighting. It’s understandable, so no blame at all.”

Binotto’s compassion was at odds with that of Hamilton’s former team-mate 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg who suggested fellow-German Vettel was already showing signs of cracking under pressure again.

“I can’t believe that we’ve seen exactly the same Sebastian Vettel today as we’ve seen throughout the past year,” he said.

First of all, the team messes up the strategy and he gets angry. Then come race day, one wheel-to-wheel battle and he spins it away completely on his own and loses the full weekend. He needs to find a way out of that now.”

The cool Leclerc, at 21 ten years younger than Vettel, showed maturity in handling his disappointment.

“It happens. It’s part of motorsport,” he said.

Unfortunately today was not our day, but the team has done a fantastic job to recover the lack of pace in Australia.

“Of course, I’m extremely disappointed, as is the whole team, but it happens.”

Vettel conceded he had made a mistake.

“It was difficult and I think we all struggled at various points,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“I didn’t have the pace I wanted today and I am not sure why and on top of that I had a mistake, with the spin. So, not a good evening.”

© – AFP 2018

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