The Cavallino driver ends up against the wall in Brazil before the start: “I’m going to Lourdes…”
“Why am I so unlucky?”. Charles Leclerc’s question is understandable and, all things considered, legitimate. The Monegasque Ferrari driver has added another ‘pearl’ to his series of misfortunes at the wheel of the red car. In the Brazilian GP, after the second time in qualifying behind the elusive Max Verstappen, the Cavallino driver would have liked to play a leading role until the checkered flag. And instead he didn’t even see the green light for the start: on the formation lap, he ended up against the protective barriers. Broken wing, race over before it started. “I could use a trip to Lourdes,” he summed up at the end of his Black Sunday. It’s hard to blame him, in this case. The accident, as the team confirmed, was caused by a hydraulic problem with the car. In short, Leclerc was unable to do anything to avoid misfortune, just the latest in a series made up of an increasingly substantial list of episodes.
Rewinding the tape, we can go back to 2020 and the collision with teammate Sebastian Vettel in the initial stages of the Styrian GP. The contact with Sergio Perez’s Red Bull on the fourth lap of the Bahrain GP was more normal.
The knockout before the start is nothing new for Leclerc, who has already had the experience in the 2021 Monaco GP: on the tortuous Monte Carlo circuit, after the pole position achieved in qualifying which ended with an accident, before the start the red to the ground due to the failure of the axle shaft. The flop of the principality. 2022 ‘gives’ other inconveniences, including accidents and reliability problems. In Imola, passing over a curb becomes the springboard for contact with the barriers: goodbye podium. In Barcelona, the victory was lost due to problems with the car. In Monte Carlo, in the chaos caused by the rain, he ends up stuck in the pits, thanks to the revisable strategy of the wall which also recalls Carlos Sainz: Leclerc pays the price, he is only fourth. If in Baku you can point the finger at the power unit, in Hungary he is still crippled by the failed strategy of the ‘brains’.
2023 is off to a bad start. The retreats in Bahrain and Australia make it clear that the season will be uphill. Verstappen practically always wins with Red Bull, the others are left with crumbs. Ferrari alternates decent performances with weekends to forget. Leclerc tries, but it’s not enough. In the United States, on a weekend compressed by the Sprint race, there is no time to set up the car optimally. Result: Ferrari floor too worn and disqualification after the GP. In Brazil, the last black page. Front row after the excellent qualifying, but Sunday is characterized by ‘never a joy’: breakdown, wall, goodbyes. Yes, Charles, you are out of luck.