Leclerc lost Azerbaijan GP lead to Hamilton after avoiding tree branch

Charles Leclerc has revealed that he lost the lead of Sunday's Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix to Lewis Hamilton after avoiding a tree branch on track at Turn 15.

Leclerc lost Azerbaijan GP lead to Hamilton after avoiding tree branch

Leclerc led the opening two laps in Baku after taking his second straight pole for Ferrari on Saturday, but was passed by Hamilton's Mercedes as they came across the line to start the third lap.

Hamilton had managed to gain on Leclerc through the high-speed final sector, eventually getting the pass completed into Turn 1. Leclerc then lost places to the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez within the next five laps, leaving him fourth before coming into the pits.

But Leclerc has revealed that an errant tree branch on the track at Turn 15 prompted him to cut the corner and then back off to ensure he did not gain a lasting advantage over Hamilton, allowing the Mercedes to close up.

Verstappen was seen taking similar evasive action on the world feed during the race.

News from Azerbaijan GP:

"It was starting to be quite OK in the first few laps," Leclerc said.

"Then there was something that I think hasn't been seen on TV. There was part of a tree in the middle of Turn 15, and there I actually lost quite a bit of time.

"I cut the track and I was a bit worried to gain time on Lewis behind that hadn't cut the track. So I slowed down and then he overtook me.

"From then on, it was quite difficult, because I was behind Lewis in dirty air, which I struggled a little bit, as soon as I lost the DRS, Max overtook me.

"Then you are just in a vicious circle that is very difficult, because I had cars all around me that had a bit more pace than I did."

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Ferrari opted to bring Leclerc in early, only for him to lose a position to Pierre Gasly, while Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel battled past after the first safety car restart.

Leclerc ultimately finished the race in fourth place, narrowly losing out to Gasly in a late battle to complete the podium.

Despite taking pole, Ferrari had downplayed its chances of maintaining its advantage over Mercedes and Red Bull in the race, leaving Leclerc unsurprised by his early loss of places.

"I struggled a little bit, then I recovered a bit of pace, but then we decided to stop early to go on those hard tyres," Leclerc said.

"Let's say there was nothing that was unexpected in those first few laps, because we expected Mercedes and Red Bull to be a bit stronger anyway."

shares
comments

Related video

Gasly worried engine problem could cost him Baku F1 podium finish
Previous article

Gasly worried engine problem could cost him Baku F1 podium finish

Next article

Pirelli suggests Baku F1 tyre blowouts may be caused by debris

Pirelli suggests Baku F1 tyre blowouts may be caused by debris
Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone? Plus

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone?

For the first time in many years, none of the local racers starts among the favourites for the British Grand Prix. But George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris could have reasons for optimism

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Plus

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone Plus

What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone

OPINION: The British Grand Prix is a home event for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with their Mercedes team based just a few miles away too. But there’s another reason why the Silver Arrows squad is eager to arrive at Silverstone this weekend, which may help it fix its remaining problems with its 2022 Formula 1 challenger

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title Plus

The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title

After two terrifying crashes, one of the best British racers of the 1950s retired before his career peaked. But that’s why GP Racing’s MAURICE HAMILTON was able to speak to Tony Brooks in 2014. Like his friend Stirling Moss, Brooks was regarded as one of the best drivers never to have won the world championship. Here, as our tribute to Brooks who died last month, is that interview in full

Formula 1
Jun 27, 2022
Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised Plus

Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s OLEG KARPOV on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow

Formula 1
Jun 26, 2022
Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons Plus

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022
How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock Plus

How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock

Porpoising has become the key talking point during the 2022 Formula 1 season, as teams battle to come to terms with it. An FIA technical directive ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and a second stay appearing on the Mercedes cars only served to create a bigger debate and raise tensions further

Formula 1
Jun 23, 2022