What happened to Charles Leclerc in Baku?

Published 04/09/2023, 6:15 AM EDT

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via Reuters

Just three races in and Ferrari are already having a torrid time in the current championship season. The Italian team’s fate has reversed in the current season compared to the last. Ferrari has already had two DNFs for Charles Leclerc alone in the opening three races. This abysmal start for the Monegasque has already crushed his championship hopes. However, this bleak scenario for Leclerc is incomparable to what he felt during the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

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The 2022 season was the most draining season for Leclerc, full of emotional turmoil. However, the race in Azerbaijan was the most crushing blow for Leclerc in the 2022 season. Let us tell us how.

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Why the Azerbaijan GP was one of the worst races for Charles Leclerc in 2022

Let’s job your memories first. It’s the start of the 2022 season. Leclerc is flying high and leading the championship after three races with two wins to his name. As the season progressed, Leclerc suffered his first unforced DNF in the Spanish GP. A rare occurrence for the brilliant Maranello outfit until then. However, eight races in came the most painful race for Leclerc and the unofficial start to his and Ferrari’s decline in 2022.

via Imago

Heading into the Azerbaijan GP, Leclerc had already lost his lead to Max Verstappen. The Red Bull man racked up win after win, and Leclerc needed one as well to keep a foothold in the fight. The race in Baku was proving to be Leclerc’s chance to get back in the mix with the Monegasque leading the race.

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However, in the 20th lap of the race, a power unit issue ended Leclerc’s hopes for another race win. The Monegasque, from the lead, parked his car on the side of the track with smoke coming out from the back of his car. The heartbreaking scenario saw Leclerc retire from the lead, adding another race to his long list of disastrous race results in 2022.

There was no secret the race in Baku was extremely painful for Leclerc and he communicated that to the media as quoted by Republic World. “It hurts. We need to look into it so it doesn’t happen again. I don’t find the right words to describe it. It’s really disappointing. We need to look into it,” he said.

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No crashes, no incidents, no mistakes. Still, a Ferrari, leading the race, had to retire to add to the team’s misfortunes. Leclerc even made an unwanted record after the race in Baku. Fans were sympathetic to Leclerc’s misfortunes. However, among the drives, it’s each to their own.

Max Verstappen’s blatant reply to Charles Leclerc’s misfortunes in Baku

Red Bull emerged as the real winner from Ferrari’s misfortunes in Baku. Apart from Leclerc, his teammate Carlos Sainz retired from the race in the eighth lap. Sainz and Leclerc, coupled with Kevin Magnussen’s and Zhou Guanyu’s retirement in the race, marked four Ferrari cars retiring from the race due to an engine failure.

via Reuters

This was the story with Red Bull during the first three races of the 2022 season. Both Verstappen and Sergio Perez retired in the first race and Verstappen again in Australia. This was just fortunes turning in Red Bull’s favor and even though most would’ve sympathized with Leclerc, the championship rival Verstappen didn’t.

Speaking to the media in the post-race press conference, Verstappen was asked to comment on Leclerc’s race. A cold-hearted Verstappen replied, “I would only say, sh*t happens. That’s racing, you know. It happened to me. It happened to many people in the past. Unfortunately, it is happening to Charles.”

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“Living in a Fantasy World”: Charles Leclerc’s Glimmer of Hope Crushed to Bits as Fans Give a Brutal Reality Check

There were no ill feelings towards the Monegasque, but there was definitely no sympathy either, especially around the Azerbaijan GP. That might’ve changed as the season progressed because Verstappen pulled away and Leclerc was just plagued by bad luck and strategy.

The 2022 season was definitely one to forget for the Monegasque and the Maranello outfit. However, by the looks of it, Ferrari will need to chalk off the current campaign as a miss as well.

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WATCH THIS STORY: Ferrari Strategy Fails We Will Never Forget

With Red Bull’s flying start, Ferrari will only get so much time to make a comeback in 2023. Will the Maranello outfit be able to pull up their socks and take the fight to Red Bull before it’s too late? Well, for now, catching up to Aston Martin and Mercedes looks to be a more realistic target.

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Written by:

Mahim Suhalka

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Mahim Suhalka is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. This Sports Management post-graduate is an ardent supporter of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team and their lead driver, Lewis Hamilton. The fact that Lewis dominated one of the most expensive sports in the world for all these years, despite his humble beginnings, has been a huge inspiration for Mahim and has made him a tenured fan of the competitive sport itself.
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Edited by:

Varunkumaar Chelladurai

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