Ferrari has identified why Charles Leclerc’s power unit suddenly switched off during the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Leclerc was running inside the points and had just enjoyed a hard-fought battle against McLaren’s Lando Norris when his power unit shut off as he rounded the final sector.
The Monegasque driver spun as a consequence and was left stranded at the penultimate corner. Although he managed to restart the car, Leclerc was retired from the race, marking his second DNF of the 2020 season.
The scenario added to Ferrari’s list of troubles, as it’s seen itself dramatically slip down the Formula 1 pecking order this year.
Enrico Gualtieri, Ferrari’s Head of Power Unit, says the team has now uncovered why the problem arose, but did not offer any specific details.
“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,” Gualtieri said.
“But we also suffered from not maximising our qualifying performance, which put us in a difficult situation in the race.”
Gualtieri adds that preparation ahead of a grand prix weekend is an area the team must focus on to ensure Leclerc and teammate Sebastian Vettel can maximise performance.
“Aware of the current difficulties, we have to focus on our work in preparing for the weekend,” he said. “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. Every thousandth of a second counts, every decision can make the difference.”
This weekend, F1 travels to Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix – the scene of Leclerc’s first career win 12 months ago.
“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 competitivness as we did in 2019,” Leclerc said.
“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.”