Charles Leclerc cast a frustrated figure in Melbourne on Sunday after pondering his second DNF of the season and admitting it’s his worst start to an F1 campaign ever.

While Leclerc was sidelined in Bahrain by an engine issue, the Monegasque’s retirement on the opening lap of the Australian Grand Prix was the end result of a contact with Aston martin’s Lance Stroll.

Regardless, it’s frustrating times for the Ferrari driver who had been earmarked by pundits and by the tifosi as a genuine candidate for the world title in 2023.

“Frustrated, obviously. It’s the worst ever start of the season,” Leclerc lamented as he faced the media after his ordeal. “Only six points or eight points, I don’t know what it is in total. Frustrating.”

Leclerc’s start to his season is in stark contrast to last year when he hit the ground running and scored two wins in the first three races. That’s but a very distant memory for the Scuderia charger now.

“For now instead of thinking of long-term targets, just finishing a race without any penalties or issues is the priority and getting some momentum and seeing what’s possible,” he said, when asked about his prospects in the short term.

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Regarding his clash with Stroll, the stewards put the incident under investigation but ruled the run-in a racing incident, a call Leclerc agreed with.

“At Turn 3, I wasn’t planning to do any overtakes but Lance had to brake quite early or slow the car down a lot while braking because Fernando [Alonso] had to because of the cars in front,” he said.

“And so I saw that there was a gap on the outside. I went for it.

“Unfortunately, Fernando had to slow the car down even more towards the end of braking and Lance found himself between Fernando and myself and we had contact.

“I’m obviously not blaming it on Lance, I think it’s a racing incident.

“But it’s just very frustrating because the end result is that I’m going home with basically no points.”

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