Ferrari confirm Charles Leclerc’s Bahrain PU will return to the pool

Sam Cooper
Charles Leclerc tests Ferrari SF-23. Bahrain Grand Prix testing, February 2023.

Charles Leclerc drives the Ferrari SF-23 under the lights during testing. Bahrain, February 2023.

Fred Vasseur has confirmed that the engine Charles Leclerc first used in the season is still available to him as the campaign goes on.

Before a wheel had even been turned at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Leclerc was already delving into his allocation for a new energy store after the team had concerns with the one run during practice.

While the replacement would go on to have even worse issues, there are some positives for Leclerc in that he will have the use of his first engine as the season goes on.

Ferrari opted to take a third energy store of the season, giving Leclerc a 10-place grid penalty for Saudi Arabia, but team boss Vassuer has said they will be able to use engine one again further down the line.

“We were quite confident about the outcome of the issue in Bahrain but we didn’t want to take any risk,” he told Sky Sports F1 ahead of the race. “We’ll use the engine one a bit later into the season.

“But it was just a matter of having a clean weekend this weekend. So no concerns over the ones that are in there for this weekend. We are always concerned about everything but not especially about the engine.”

Speaking after hearing from Vasseur, Damon Hill commented that even after the opening race in Bahrain, the Ferrari boss was already facing pressure.

“He’s got a massive reputation in the team, he’s got to understand and get his position in that team established and already, after only the first race, you can see the pressure has been applied to Ferrari,” Hill said during a punditry stint on Sky Sports F1.

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“And there’s all sorts of gossip around a lot of headless chickens and stuff and he’s had to quash that. But here he is facing facts. He’s got a car that he hopes is going to be at least at the front of the pack if not snapping at the heels of the Red Bull.”

Nico Rosberg also provided his opinion and said that Vassuer was doing his best to settle into life at Ferrari, including by taking Italian lessons.

“He was my boss in Formula 2 so I know him very, very well,” Rosberg said. “He’s really such a competent team leader and so I’m sure he’s going to fare well there.

“I spoke to him earlier. Two things, he’s taken the head of human resources from the Ferrari car division where he oversees the F1 team as well and moved him into the office next to him. That’s the first change he made in order to learn about the team of people as quickly as possible.

“Because it’s so much about people management and so I think that’s a big step that he did, which is similar to Toto [Wolff] picking away the human resources leader from Red Bull, it’s such a key person.

“And he’s taking Italian lessons every morning and he said it’s such a head scratcher.”