Leclerc rues 'worst start to season ever' after first-lap retirement in Australia
Charles Leclerc rued "the worst start to the season ever" as his Ferrari posted a second retirement of 2023 at the Australian Grand Prix.
The Monegasque spun off on three turns in at Albert Park after a collision with Aston Martin's Lance Stroll, ending his race inside the opening lap.
Following a 39th-lap retirement in Bahrain with engine trouble and a seventh-place finish in Saudi Arabia, it continues a rough campaign for Leclerc.
Speaking afterwards, the 25-year-old refused to place the blame at Stroll's feet, but acknowledged his first three races are a nadir in his Formula 1 career.
"[It is] just extremely frustrating," he said. "I mean, it's the worst start to the season ever, really. It is really frustrating.
"I'm not pointing the finger at Lance because I think he had no choice once Fernando [Alonso] slowed down the car the second time.
"For me, it was just impossible to see whether Lance was staying behind Fernando or if he was just in between. I obviously didn't think he was there."
It marked a pointless day for Ferrari, with Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz demoted from fourth to 12th with a controversial five-second time penalty.
The Spaniard was handed the punishment for running into Alonso amid the race's restart in the wake of its second red flag, with just two laps to go.
After a rolling restart the third time around ensured he could not build an advantage to keep him in the points, Sainz was left fuming afterwards.
"I think it's the most unfair penalty I've seen in my life," he told media. "I [would] prefer to go back to the stewards, have a conversation with them.
"Maybe I can come back and talk [then]. I honestly cannot do it [now]. It's too unfair, and I don't feel well to speak."