'He is distraught': Formula One stunned by 'horrible' scenes

Charles Leclerc, pictured here distraught after retiring from the Spanish Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc was shattered after retiring from the Spanish Grand Prix. Image: Getty

F1 fans have been left heartbroken for Charles Leclerc after the Ferrari star was forced to retire from the Spanish Grand Prix, handing the victory and championship lead to Max Verstappen.

Verstappen took a dramatic victory on Sunday to take over the drivers' championship lead from Leclerc, who was forced to retire while leading the race.

'INCOMPETENCE': Former champ savaged Formula One officials

'GOT SCARED': F1 ace crashes historic car in embarrassing blunder

Leclerc defended his pole position at the start, and Verstappen spun off the track early.

But disaster struck when Leclerc's car lost power on Lap 27 of 66.

Leclerc, who was leading by 11 seconds, screamed: "No! No! No! What happened?"

Sky Sports commentator Ted Kravitz said: “Shock on the Ferrari pitwall.

“Charles Leclerc could scarcely believe it. He’s distraught.”

Martin Brundle added: “That’s a big moment for the world championship.”

Leclerc later said: "I don't know anything more than what happened. I had no indications and then it broke.

"It is a shame. In those moments I believe there is nothing else I can do except look at the positives which there are plenty.

"It gives me the confidence for the rest of the season. On the other hand we will look at this issue."

Max Verstappen, pictured here after winning the Spanish Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the Spanish Grand Prix. (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said: "It was a sudden issue.

"I think we learned it first from Charles going into the radio and then from the engineers looking at the data, it was sudden.

"We do not yet have an explanation, it will travel to Maranello during the night and we will disassemble it in the morning."

The timing could not have been much worse for Leclerc, with his home race in Monte Carlo and a showcase of the calendar coming next weekend.

Max Verstappen wins after Sergio Perez yields first place

Verstappen's third successive triumph puts him on 110 points compared to Leclerc's 104.

However the Red Bull star needed an assist from teammate Sergio Perez to get his fourth victory of the season.

Perez was leading Sunday's race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya when his team told him to let Verstappen pass on Lap 49.

"It's unfair but OK," Perez told his team. "I am happy for the team. We need to speak later."

Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen and George Russell, pictured here on the podium after the Spanish Grand Prix.
Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen and George Russell on the podium after the Spanish Grand Prix. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Verstappen, who had had problems with his DRS system and briefly spun off in the opening laps, later said: "Not an easy start to the race, but we turned it around.

"Thanks to the team for their great job and thanks to Checo (Perez), he is a great teammate."

Perez, who could have taken just the third win of his career, finished second ahead of Mercedes' George Russell in third. Fourth was Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton was fifth in the second Mercedes despite a first lap collision with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen dropping him to the back of the grid after needing a tyre change.

Australia's Daniel Ricciardo finished 12th in his McLaren and outside the points.

Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Lando Norris (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Alpine) - who started last having changed parts - and Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) were also in the points.

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.