Ferrari find cause of Leclerc’s Spanish GP issue

Jamie Woodhouse
Charles Leclerc PA

Charles Leclerc believes it is no coincidence that Ferrari are faster in qualifying than races at present – citing fuel loads as the difference.

Ferrari say they have “identified the problem” which led to Charles Leclerc’s DNF at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Monegasque driver was well in the hunt for points at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya before he spun at the chicane when his SF1000 switched off.

After several attempts to get the engine going Leclerc was ready to retire until Ferrari asked him to try one more time.

At this point Leclerc was able to get the engine going again, but he had already taken his seatbelt off since he thought his race was over.

He would carry on but after complaining of moving forwards under braking Ferrari called him into the pits to retire.

But Leclerc will be relieved to hear that Ferrari have identified the ECU issue which led to his DNF.

“In Barcelona, we paid a high price for a lack of reliability, and in fact we have now identified the problem with the electronic control unit that caused Charles’ retirement,” said Ferrari’s head of power unit Enrico Gualtieri.

“We also suffered from not maximising our qualifying performance, which put us in a difficult situation in the race.

“Aware of the current difficulties, we have to focus on our work in preparing for the weekend. The main aim is to ensure the drivers can get the most out of the SF1000. We must optimise the car-PU package, work well in the garage, define the best strategy and be efficient when it comes to reacting to changing conditions.”

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Ferrari have won the last two Belgian Grand Prixs, but will have their work cut out to make it a hat-trick this weekend.

Leclerc won the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix to take his first F1 victory, becoming Ferrari’s youngest race winner in the process, but he isn’t expecting a repeat this year.

“In terms of expectations, it will be tougher for us in terms of performance this time around as we do not have the same level of competitiveness as we did in 2019,” he admitted.

“However, we have seen that anything can happen at this track, especially with the unpredictable weather.

“As a team, we will have to work very hard to do all we can to get the most out of the car right from Friday. In free practice, we must gather all the information needed to pick the best strategy for qualifying and especially for the race.”

Already it will be a difficult weekend for Leclerc since it marks one year since his childhood friend Anthoine Hubert was killed in a horror F2 crash at Spa.

“The Spa-Francorchamps circuit has a special place in my heart. While it is here that I took my first win, it is also where we lost our friend Anthoine last year,” he said.

“It will be difficult to return to this track and he will be in our thoughts all weekend.”

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