Charles Leclerc fears ‘nightmare’ Mexican GP if Ferrari engine issues persist

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc sitting in his Ferrari. Mexico October 2022

Charles Leclerc fears he is facing an “extremely difficult” Mexican Grand Prix unless Ferrari can resolve the engine issues that blighted his qualifying.

Leclerc will line up seventh on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez grid, his worst qualifying performance of this season.

Instead of chasing a tenth pole position for the campaign, the Ferrari driver was down on pace with his second Q3 lap some 9km/h slower than his first.

Speaking to the media after qualifying, he said there had been “lots of problems with driveability, the engine was not responding to the throttle”.

He fears unless Ferrari resolve the issue, he’s in for a trying Sunday in Mexico.

“There was something strange or wrong with the engine,” he said as per The Race.

“I was losing quite a lot of time down the straights from FP3 to Q3, not compared to the Red Bull or Mercedes because this had been the case since FP1 and we knew it.

“But there was something strange and also the engine was not really responding to the throttle input I was having in the high speeds.

“I really hope we can fix those issues otherwise it’s going to be an extremely difficult race to be consistent.”

Calling it his “most difficult qualifying by far”, he added: “It would not do exactly what I want with the engine so I would get surprised and then get a snap.

“If I still have the same issues then the race will be a nightmare, so I hope we can fix that.”

His team-mate Carlos Sainz also wasn’t happy with his qualifying, the Spaniard qualifying P5 but over six-tenths down on pole sitter Max Verstappen.

But declaring that he will “dig deep” on Sunday, he is hoping for a better showing in the grand prix.

“We shouldn’t get too discouraged. I think it’s a very particular track, a very particular scenario.

“The race pace felt maybe the other way around this weekend, a bit better than the qualifying pace.

“With fuel the car settles down a bit. While in low fuel, you would see we’re a bit all over the place.

“I’m a bit more optimistic. The only thing is that to pass around here will be tricky.”

One person who’d like to see Ferrari improve in the grand prix is Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko.

Max Verstappen speaking with George Russell, Lewis Hamilton in the background. Mexico October 2022

With the Mercedes team-mates lining up P2 and P3 behind Verstappen, he’s concerned about an attack from either George Russell or Lewis Hamilton.

He told Sky Deutschland: “First we have to see how the start turns out. They [Mercedes] have two cars in front.

“I hope that the Ferraris are stronger in the race so that Mercedes can also put pressure on from behind. And Sergio is yes still there.

“It’s going to be very tight.”

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