Charles Leclerc’s fans’ worst fear comes true ahead of Saudi Arabian GP

Charles Leclerc retired from two races in 2022 whilst leading, following an engine failure similar to what he experienced in Bahrain.

With just one race having been completed, the start of Charles Leclerc’s 2023 campaign has already gone from bad to worse, with the Monegasque having been slapped with a 10-place grid penalty for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Leclerc’s grid penalty is due to Ferrari having changed the control electronics for a third time already, with only two changes being allowed in a season.

Leclerc’s control electronics ruined his Bahrain Grand Prix, with a second set having been fitted on the morning of the race at the Bahrain International Circuit, after Ferrari identified an issue with the original set.

However, Leclerc’s second set also broke, with it having been the reason why he suffered an engine failure whilst in third.

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As a result, he’s already had a third set of control electronics fitted for this weekend at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with the likelihood now being that the 25-year-old will face several engine-related grid penalties this season.

It was confirmed on Wednesday by team principal Frederic Vasseur that a third change will be needed, following an analysis in Maranello.

The fault with the control electronics is supposedly something Ferrari have “never experienced in the past”, with the hope being that they’ve now understood what caused the issue.

“There were two issues, one on the Sunday morning when we did the fire-up and one in the race,” Vasseur explained.

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“Unfortunately, it was two times the control electronics box and it’s something that we never experienced in the past.

“I hope that now we have it under control. We have a deep analysis on this. But unfortunately, we will have to take the penalty in Jeddah because we only have a pool of two control electronics for the season.”

The fact that Ferrari are already taking grid penalties is a huge concern, especially given that the Italians supposedly fixed their power unit problems from last season during the winter break.

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It was believed that the Italians were entering 2023 with a strong power unit; however, the question now is whether it’s actually more fragile than last season.

“We worked on all areas trying to understand the root causes of the problems we encountered on track and used all our available tools to try and solve them,” Ferrari’s head of power unit Enrico Gualtieri said in a team video.

“We’ve had some positive feedback on the test bench on some of the changes we’ve introduced. But as usual, the track will tell us if we’ve done a good job.”