Ferrari order ‘full investigation’ after unexpected power unit problem for Charles Leclerc
Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur says the engine failure that cost Charles Leclerc a podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix was a “first” for Ferrari’s power unit.
Already expecting a difficult start to the season with Ferrari unable to match Red Bull for pace, Leclerc’s championship began with a disappointing DNF.
Prior to Sunday’s race Ferrari revealed they’d opted to replace the energy store and control electronics on the Monégasque driver’s power unit, doing so as a precautionary measure.
However, 41 laps into race and up in third place Leclerc gave an agonised “no, no” as his Ferrari lost power and he pulled off the track to retire the car.
“Honestly we don’t know yet what’s happened exactly,” Vasseur told the media, including PlanetF1.com, in Bahrain.
“There’s been an issue in the morning, we changed the parts, we don’t know where it’s coming from and we’ll have the investigation soon.
“But it’s too early stage for me to give you a better answer.”
He did, however, reveal that despite Leclerc suffering two problems in the space of less than 24 hours, it wasn’t something Ferrari had encountered on the dyno over the winter.
“We never expected to have something like this because it’s the first time that we had it,” said Vasseur.
“We didn’t face the same issue at all during the six or seven thousand kilometres that we did with the engines last week with the three teams. And we never had the same issue on the dyno throughout the winter.
“But again, we need to do a full investigation before to be able to give you a proper answer.”
According to Motorsport Italia, Leclerc’s engine wasn’t broken so much as it just turned off in a blackout of the control unit.
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Leclerc had ‘zero’ warning of the impending problem
A disappointed Leclerc, already trailing Max Verstappen by 25 points after Bahrain, revealed he had “zero” warning that a problem was brewing before his SF-23 shut down “completely.
“I couldn’t do anything after that. We need to keep working because obviously first race and first reliability problems, so not good.”
He reiterated Vasseur’s comments that there had been no sign of the problem during the team’s pre-season preparations, “not from what I know,” he said.
Asked by PlanetF1.com if the original Energy Store would be available given drivers are limited to just two per season, Leclerc replied: “I don’t know anything for now to be honest.
“I just got out the car and I came here so yeah, I don’t know anything.”
Former F1 drivers back Vasseur to get it right at Ferrari
Although the season didn’t begin as Ferrari had hoped, former F1 driver Christian Klien believes Vasseur is the right man for the job.
He told ServusTV: “He speaks plain language and addresses things as they are, and simply says where they need to improve. That’s important for Ferrari, because there’s a lot to do there.
“Basically they have a very good car and also a good team, but now he just has to push people in the right direction so that Ferrari can constantly fight at the front again.”
Nico Rosberg agrees, he told Sky Deutschland: “It will be exciting to see how Fred gets used to the team and what changes he will make.
“One must not forget that they were really close in qualifying. The lap pace can give them optimism that they can fight with Red Bull because there are other tracks where you can’t overtake as well and then the lap pace counts a lot more.”
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