Ferrari are set to abandon their immediate plans to introduce an ERS upgrade to the F1-75, and will switch their attention to improving the reliability of the car, according to reports.
Having started on pole, Charles Leclerc was leading after a smart stop under a Virtual Safety Car got him back ahead of Sergio Perez after the Mexican grabbed the lead at Turn One.
However, a huge blowout in the back of his car put an early stop to his race, 11 laps after team-mate Carlos Sainz had suffered a terminal hydraulic problem.
It allowed Max Verstappen, who passed Perez with his superior pace in Baku, to win the grand prix as the 32-year-old sealed the one-two and took the fastest lap of the race in the process.
It was the Austrian outfit that suffered the main bulk of the reliability issues in the opening three rounds of the season as Leclerc won in Bahrain and Australia, but Leclerc has retired from two of the last three races owing to engine problems, with Verstappen and Perez taking full advantage.
The championship has swung since Red Bull introduced their game-changing upgrades in Imola, and Ferrari’s major problems have hit them since new engines were given to Leclerc and Sainz in Miami.
Both races in Spain and Baku have seen soaring temperatures, and Ferrari have suffered issues in both of them, but the opening four races saw relatively mild temperatures for the drivers and cars to deal with.
It is therefore tough to tell whether the issues the Scuderia have been experiencing lately have been lying dormant since the beginning of the year, or whether there is something fundamentally wrong with the new engines given to their drivers a few races ago.
It is worth noting that the upgraded engines were changed for reliability reasons – the only way that engines can be altered due to the current engine freeze.
The answer to the aforementioned puzzle will be difficult to decipher ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix as well.
The teams have limited money that they can spend on freight due to the budget cap, so Ferrari would likely prefer to get everything straight to Montreal, but a stop-off at Maranello on Monday to diagnose the issues may be needed.
It is a long trip to Canada from Azerbaijan though so logistically, it is extremely difficult to get the engines back to base, perform a full dissection of the issues, and then get everything over to the next race this weekend.
There were reports that Leclerc had an electrical upgrade coming his way ahead of the British Grand Prix in a few weeks’ time, but from Formu1a.uno’s reports, it would appear as though all the focus is now moving to making sure the engine is reliable.
Electrical updates are still permitted until the beginning of September when those parts are all frozen, but the same rule applies in that changes for reliability reasons are allowed.
Perez has now passed Leclerc for second in the Drivers’ Championship, and Red Bull lead the Scuderia by 80 points in the constructors’ battle.