Charles Leclerc admitted he was ‘feeling very bad’ after witnessing in his mirrors the horror crash of Romain Grosjean on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix, and he was full of worry until he was told he had got out of the car.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver admitted it felt like it was a ‘very long time’ between the accident and being told that the Frenchman was okay. He has high praise for the way safety has evolved in Formula 1 in recent years, and the car did just what it was supposed to in the crash.
“After Romain’s crash, I was feeling very bad,” said Leclerc. “It was probably the first time I have felt like this during a race, because I was trying to keep someone behind me and so I saw what happened in my rear view mirrors and when I got to turn 9 I saw the flames, so I was worrying and waiting for news about Romain.
“I was extremely happy when they told me he was ok, after what seemed like a very long time. Well done to everyone who works on making our cars safe. It’s impressive to see what an incredible job they’ve done! Once I knew Romain was ok I focused on the race again.”
Leclerc ultimately finished tenth after inheriting the final point after the late retirement of BWT Racing Point Formula One Team’s Sergio Pérez, but the Monegasque racer admitted it was a day where he was just not quick enough to be a genuine threat for the points.
“It was a difficult one for us today, as we were really not quick enough,” said Leclerc. “I had a very good start but unfortunately after that it was all uphill.
“P10 was the best we could achieve today. We have two more GPs ahead of us now and we’ll try to get the most out of them.”
“All in all, it was definitely a difficult race” – Sebastian Vettel
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel felt the news that Grosjean had escaped serious injury was perhaps the only good news of the day, with the German struggling for performance throughout the race at the Bahrain International Circuit.
He lost places on the restart when he got delayed by being directly behind Lance Stroll as he was tipped upside down in an incident with Daniil Kvyat, and he struggled for performance throughout and ended up down in thirteenth.
“Maybe the only good news of today is the one I received on the radio, confirming to me that Romain was ok,” said Vettel. “When we stopped in the pitlane and I jumped out of the car I saw the images and it was incredible how he was able to get out of his car. I have to admit I tried not to look at the images too much.
“Talking about my race, the first stint was very bad, I didn’t have the pace and I lost quite a lot of ground. The situation improved as the race went on and in free air in the end it was not that bad but all in all, it was definitely a difficult race.”
“We had seen right from Friday that we would struggle” – Mattia Binotto
Mattia Binotto, the Team Principal at Ferrari, said the result of the Bahrain Grand Prix was ‘secondary’ for the team after the first lap crash for Grosjean, but right from Friday practice, they knew it was going to be a struggle.
Binotto says it will be up to the team to work out why they were off the pace as much as they were ahead of this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix around the outer layout of the Bahrain International Circuit.
“The outcome of today’s race is secondary to the relief we felt when Romain Grosjean got out of his car after that terrifying accident,” said Binotto. “The fact that he suffered only minor injuries is a testament to the amazing job done by the FIA in terms of safety and the courage and professionalism of all those involved on that front at a Grand Prix.
“But for the progress made in recent years and above all the introduction of the halo, we might have been commenting on a tragedy.
“As for our race, it was disappointing, but we had seen right from Friday that we would struggle this weekend. Now we have a few days in which to analyse all the data carefully and see how we can improve the car’s handling for next weekend.
“As we stay in Sakhir, the track conditions and temperatures should be the same, but we will be racing on a different layout for the very first time, which could present us with an opportunity. It will be up to us to grasp it and to do better than we did today.”