Charles Leclerc says ‘excuses are not enough’ to explain his clumsy error at the start of the Styrian Grand Prix that took both himself and Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel out of the race by lap two.

Already on the back foot after Vettel could only manage 10th and Leclerc started down in 14th – not helped by a grid penalty – the race would last just a few corners for both drivers after Leclerc got it all wrong into the Turn 3 hairpin.

Coming up from quite a long way behind Vettel, Leclerc took to the inside but found himself with nowhere to go as his team-mate shut the door unknowingly to the sister Ferrari. With Leclerc up on the inside kerb, he clattered Vettel’s car, to leave them both with damage that necessitated a stop at the end of lap one.

With Vettel retiring there and then, Leclerc managed just one more lap before pulling in to retire too.

“I apologised," the Monegasque said. "Excuses are not enough in a time like this. I did a very bad job today, I let the team down. I can only be sorry even though I let the team down.

“The team don’t need that and I put all the hopes of the team in the bin. I’m very sorry, but it’s not enough, again.”

Coming at a sensitive time for Ferrari in the wake several racing clashes between its two drivers in 2019, though this one was merely an error on Leclerc’s part this time, it left Vettel evidently frustrated after only scoring a single point a week earlier.

“I was expecting Charles to try something, so I didn’t think there was any space. Obviously this is something we should avoid but no much I could have done differently, I was taking it easy and conservatively because it was already very busy and tight at the hairpin, so I was just trying to place my car for the next straight but by then I realised I had quite some damage.”

A missed opportunity to conduct competitive running of its new parts following Saturday’s rain, Vettel says he will pick himself up and carry on for round three in Hungary.

“It is a shame because we got to come back to the same track and also similar conditions, but we would not get that answer. The car felt a lot better on Friday and back to where it was last week, but it is a shame because with the update we wanted to get the race on the line and get some laps.”

 

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