Formula One championship contender Charles Leclerc retired from the lead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday as Ferrari suffered a double blow to their title hopes.
Leclerc’s pole in Azerbaijan was his 15th in his career to far but with only four wins, he now holds the record for the most pole positions with the fewest wins in F1 history, with a win conversion rate of just 26.6 per cent.
Leclerc is now 22nd on the all-time list for pole positions, behind just Felipe Massa and Stirling Moss, who have 16.
The Monegasque, who had started from pole for the sixth time in eight races and fourth in a row, pulled into the pits with a smoking engine at the end of the 20th lap.
Ferrari confirmed the power unit was the problem.
Leclerc had lost out at the start to Red Bull’s Sergio Perez but regained the lead through the pitstops.
It was Leclerc’s second retirement from three races and came after Spanish team mate Carlos Sainz pulled off the track with a hydraulic failure on lap 10 in his third retirement of the campaign.
Ferrari’s double failure handed the lead to Red Bull’s world champion Max Verstappen, who went into the race with a nine-point lead over Leclerc. Perez was running second.
“It hurts, we really need to look into that for it to not happen again. I don’t really find the right words to describe this,” Leclerc told Sky Sports television.
“It’s very, very disappointing. We’ve been fast and we didn’t have particularly big problems in the first part of the season. Now it seems that we have a bit more compared to the beginning but we didn’t change massive things,” he added.
“It’s difficult to understand for now but we will have to analyse.”
Leclerc could not say how the failure might affect his engine allocation for the rest of the season, with grid penalties for exceeding the number permitted.
On a bad day for the three Ferrari-powered teams, Alfa Romeo also retired Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu while Kevin Magnussen parked his Haas with smoke coming from the car’s airbox.
(With inputs from Agencies)