Ferrari already forced into engine pool with Charles Leclerc component changes

Thomas Maher
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.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has already moved onto fresh engine component son his car, following concerns from the team overnight.

Leclerc will start Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix from third on the grid, just behind the two Red Bulls, but the Monegasque has become the first driver to be required to delve into his allocation of engine parts for the season.

Each driver is permitted two energy stores (ES) for the entire season, with this part essentially being the ‘battery’ of the car and controlling the energy harvested by the hybrid ancillaries such as the MGU-K and MGU-H.

Leclerc has been fitted with his second energy store, following a request overnight made by the team to the technical delegate.

This means that any further energy stores required by Leclerc will trigger a grid penalty – the change is understood to be precautionary rather than in response to a problem, and doesn’t trigger a penalty on this occasion as he remains within his season allocation.

An hour before lights out, another engine component change on Leclerc’s car was confirmed as new control electronics (CE) were also added to his pool. recommends

Two race weekends in 2023 set aside for additional revised qualifying format
Bahrain Grand Prix starting grid: Max Verstappen heads Red Bull 1-2, Mercedes with work to do
Encouraging signs of life at Williams as Alex Albon bemoans missing Q3 slot

Leclerc sat out the final minutes of Q3 on Saturday, with the reason given as a desire to save tyres for Sunday’s race, failing to put in a final Q3 flying lap in a bid to topple Verstappen from pole position.

Having finished qualifying behind the Red Bulls, Leclerc explained his early exit when he spoke to media, including, afterward.

“No, there wasn’t any issue,” he said.

“I think we were in a fight for pole, which was a good surprise, to be honest, because I did not expect that after testing and after the free practices that were a little bit difficult.

“We managed to find that pace for the quali lap, which was great. However, we need to keep in our mind that in the race run we seem to be a little bit on the back foot compared to Red Bull. And I think we are in a better place starting third with new tyres than starting first with old, or a bit further up [than third]. I don’t know if we will have gotten pole or not. But it would have been close.”

While Ferrari have had to change that engine component on Leclerc’s car, Red Bull have also had to make changes under parc ferme. On both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez’s car, the team have opted to change an oil inlet pipe on the internal combustion engine – a permitted like-for-like component change that triggers no penalty and does not have a set allocation.