More pain for Charles Leclerc as 10-place grid penalty for Saudi GP confirmed
Round 2 of F1 2023, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, is almost here, and Charles Leclerc will take the first power unit-related grid penalty of the season.
Formula 1 imposes restrictions on the number of power unit components which teams can give to their drivers across a season, a system designed to stop the bigger teams from bolting in a new PU at almost every stop on the calendar.
Usually though it is not until the season has really got going that these penalties start kicking in, but for Ferrari and Leclerc, their rough start to the season has taken yet another turn for the worse.
That it because Ferrari have already been forced to give Leclerc a third new Control Electronics of the season, following the dramas at the season-opener in Bahrain.
It was confirmed there that Ferrari pre-race had changed this component on Leclerc’s SF-23, and the replacement would then go bang in the race, sending Leclerc from what looked like a comfortable P3 and podium finish to an early retirement from the race.
The rules dictate that only two Control Electronics per driver are permitted for the season, and so with this Leclerc’s first breach of the component limits for F1 2023, it means he will drop 10 places on the grid for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Explaining the issue, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur, as per Motorsport.com, said: “There were two problems, one on Sunday morning when we did the power unit ignition and one in the race, unfortunately, a trouble that had never happened in the past.
“Now I hope everything is under control. We have investigated the problem thoroughly and will pay for the trouble with a penalty in Jeddah.”
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Leclerc’s penalty comes as a bitter blow for Ferrari’s chances in Jeddah, the team having been tipped to bounce back here from a lacklustre start in Bahrain and provide a closer challenge to Red Bull who dominated the season-opener.
The high-speed Jeddah track, which is less demanding on the tyres than Bahrain, it is expected will prove a stronger match for the SF-23, but Leclerc will now be left with a great deal of work to do just to reach the top positions during the race.
Ferrari then will need Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz to deliver an improved performance, the Spaniard having finished P4 in Bahrain after he was overtaken by Aston Martin’s fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso for the final podium spot.