Leclerc concedes taking penalty ‘best decision to make’

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc races in front of the fans. Montreal June 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc races past the fans in the grandstands. Montreal June 2022

Although Charles Leclerc can’t start the Canadian GP higher than P11, the Ferrari driver says taking a grid penalty for a third Control Electronic was the “best decision to make”.

Ferrari revealed on Friday that Leclerc’s Azerbaijan power unit, the one that gave up the ghost on lap 21 while he was running up in P1, was “beyond repair”.

While it was initially thought it would be a turbocharger that incurred his first grid penalty of this season, it turned out to be the Control Electronic.

Ferrari said in a statement: “A new Control Electronic has been fitted to Charles’ car prior to FP2.

“It is the third of these elements used so far this season – only two are permitted – therefore Charles takes a grid penalty.”

The driver says it was the right call.

“Well, obviously I’m starting a little bit more in the back,” Leclerc told the official F1 website, “but I think it was the best decision to make so let’s see how it goes.

“The overtaking was a little bit more difficult than I expected but yeah, I mean the pace is there so hopefully we can come back to where we want to be.”

Leclerc finished Friday’s practice in second place, 0.081s down on championship leader Max Verstappen.

While earlier in the season he’d held a 34-point advantage in the Drivers’ standings, after two DNFS, a botched strategy and a driver mistake, he now trails by 34 points.

Leclerc reckons Ferrari are on Red Bull’s pace this weekend.

“It is pretty close,” he said. “The race pace we need to work on – I mean it’s a bit difficult to have a clear picture because I was on a different compound all the time but overall, it didn’t look too bad so that’s good.”

As for his team-mate Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard was third quickest with his best lap time 0.225s down.

“Max looks to be very quick this weekend, he was on it since the beginning, and I think we’re playing a little bit of catch up to him, in both one-lap pace and on long run,” said Sainz.

“But I think with the steps that we normally do into Saturday and Sunday, we can get ourselves up there.”