Charles Leclerc added another chapter, albeit a minor one, to Ferrari’s 2022 tale of woe by crashing out of FP2 for the Mexican Grand Prix.
Since winning two of the season’s first three races, the season has gradually gone downhill for Leclerc to the point where his World Championship chances were officially ended by Max Verstappen at the Japanese Grand Prix – with four more rounds remaining.
Although Ferrari as a team have made numerous errors this term, Leclerc has also thrown away points and even potential wins with driving mistakes of his own – and another occurred at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
After the Scuderia had finished first and second in the opening practice session, Carlos Sainz a fraction quicker than Leclerc, the 20 drivers had 90 minutes for FP2 which was serving as a test for the 2023 Pirelli tyres.
But Leclerc did not even reach the halfway mark of the session before he spun at the left-hand Turn 7 and hit the barrier, badly damaging the rear of the F1-75 and bringing out the red flags.
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It was not a high-speed crash and Leclerc declared himself completely unhurt over the team radio, but it meant a lengthy repair job for Ferrari mechanics to get his car back into shape for FP3 and qualifying the following day.
Leclerc’s team-mate Sainz has not completed a single lap in either of the last two grands prix having crashed on a wet circuit in Japan and been hit by George Russell’s Mercedes in the United States, causing a terminal water leak.
As Leclerc’s Ferrari was transported back, Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz speculated a gearbox change could be needed – potentially triggering a grid penalty.
Leclerc does not believe that this will be the case.
“I don’t think any of it will compromise us,” he told reporters after the session. “I think we have enough [parts] now with all the penalties we’ve had in the past, so it should be fine.”
Leclerc then does not believe that the shunt will set him back for the remainder of the weekend, adding that the changes that were made to his Ferrari from FP1 to FP2, which he did not like, are very much reversible going into Saturday.
“To be honest, the feeling is good,” he told reporters. “We’ve been pretty unlucky in FP1; on my side I had a puncture on the out-lap, so not many laps, but the few that I’ve done I was happy with the car.
“In FP2, [it was] the same on the short runs, then I lost the rear at the start of the high-fuel [run], so [I had a] limited amount of laps, but that was my mistake – I’m confident it won’t hurt our weekend.
“We tried something on my car which I didn’t particularly like, so I wasn’t as much at ease with the car than I was in FP1, but I know what to do for tomorrow, so [I’m] confident that the performance will be there.”