Charles Leclerc reveals huge Ferrari power unit issue in disastrous Canadian Grand Prix

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the rain at the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Battling a time loss north of a second and 10 engine switch changes a lap, Charles Leclerc was left to reflect on a “frustrating” Canadian Grand Prix.

Ferrari already had a lot of work to do after a double Q2 elimination in Montréal, though for Leclerc the task got much harder still when power unit issues set in, these ultimately forcing him to retire by the 40th lap of the race.

Charles Leclerc was losing 1.2 seconds on straights

Speaking to Sky F1 following the Canadian GP, Leclerc would reveal the alarming extent of the issues which he was battling with the Ferrari PU, meaning there was “nothing we could have done better” to improve their performance.

“I was losing 1.2 [seconds] in the straights, which was extremely annoying,” said Leclerc.

“And then over that I had like 10 changes per lap on the different engine switch, which was such a frustrating race because you get passed by everybody in the straights.

“In corners you are fast and actually I think the pace was quite strong at the beginning considering the 1.2 off, but with the engine issue, there was nothing we could have done better.”

Leclerc was riding a wave of momentum into the Canadian Grand Prix after the elation of victory last time out on home soil in Monaco, though Canada served to put a stop to that.

However, Leclerc said he had stressed the importance of Ferrari resetting for every race weekend, rather than expecting more of what went down in Monaco.

“We were expecting to be in the mix,” he admitted, “which was surprising once we arrived in qualifying and it wasn’t the case.

“But coming into the weekend, I said it, I think we’ve got to reset every time we come into a new weekend and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Whatever happens the weekend before, you’ve got to reset and cannot rely on the performance of Monaco.

“So that didn’t mean that we would have been flying like in Monaco, but we knew it was going to be tough.

“We probably had a worse surprise than what it actually was in qualifying and this is I think the thing we’ve got to look at. Obviously the main issue today is the engine issue and this we have to really look at it.

“But all in all, it’s been a frustrating weekend. Not really the pace we expected in qualifying and the engine issue in the race that we couldn’t come back [from].”

Asked if it was a new power unit in his Ferrari for the Canadian GP, Leclerc clarified: “It’s not a new engine, it’s a new issue. We’ve never seen that before. Very strange.”

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It was a double DNF for Ferrari in Canada with Carlos Sainz also failing to see the chequered flag, spinning out and taking Williams’ Alex Albon with him 12 laps after Leclerc had retired the sister Ferrari.

“There was a lot of contact today so I will need to see if there’s any kind of damage in the car and maybe that was limiting our pace,” Sainz told Sky F1.

“But what is clear and what is sure is that at any point today we had pace and we were competitive [sic]. It’s something that as a team, we for sure need to analyse and try to understand because, yes, it’s quite disappointing to come from our strongest weekend to go straight into our weakest.

“But yeah, it’s the Formula 1 of nowadays and we will need to analyse what’s going on in these performance swings to try and come back stronger.”

Asked where Ferrari were lacking and the impacts going forward, Sainz replied: “The reality is that we don’t know yet. We haven’t had time to analyse and take any conclusion.

“So we have a week now before Barcelona to fully understand.”

And as for that race-ending error, Sainz explained that he saw the potential for points if he took some risks to get the moves done, a strategy which would ultimately backfire.

“Yeah, a driver mistake,” he said.

“I was starting to take some risks because I could see that maybe in the dry, we were a little bit more competitive and there was potential maybe to score some points if I took some risk and overtook some cars in DRS trains, but I ended up paying the price.”

Ferrari remain P2 in the Constructors’ Championship, but the gap to Red Bull has grown to 49 points.

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